NSF Chem Fellow Off to Harvard

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Andrew Bendelsmith in the lab with Professor Hoye

CATEGORY: Academics
TYPE: Articles
RELATED PROGRAMS: Chemistry

By | Andrew Bendelsmith ’13
West St. Paul, Minnesota
Chemistry

In March, I learned that I had been awarded a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, which provides $30,000 for each of the first three years of my graduate study. 

Thanks to great research opportunities with my professors, I will graduate as co-author of two peer-reviewed journal articles in chemistry and with substantial support for my PhD studies.

Most recently I worked with Professor Becky Hoye in organic chemistry, synthesizing fusarinine C, which chelates (forms a ring around) iron and thereby affects the virulence of a fungus.

Organic chemistry requires students to develop a synthetic scheme, a plan for making a final product. Through this research, I realized my passion and have decided to pursue a PhD in organic chemistry.

I am lucky to have conducted two additional summers of research. The summer after my first year, I worked with Macalester physical chemistry professor Tom Varberg on two projects—measuring the expansion of real gasses, and studying the electronic spectrum of tantalum sulfide, a free radical. Both projects were collaborative efforts with Macalester computational chemistry professor Keith Kuwata, and both led to peer-reviewed publications, a rare experience for an undergraduate.

The next summer I worked as an Amgen scholar in an NMR (nuclear magnetic resonance) spectroscopy laboratory at Cal Tech. My excellent organic chemistry classes and my previous research at Macalester made me a strong applicant for the competitive Amgen scholarship.

Because of these collaborative research experiences with my professors, I won the Barry Goldwater Scholarship, which is awarded to students wishing to pursue a PhD in the natural sciences. It is considered the premier undergraduate award in the sciences.

I haven’t spent all of my time in the lab. I have also been active in the music life of Macalester, playing the cello in the symphonic and pit orchestras and in a Baroque quartet. In addition, I have sung in the choir and in Medicinal Melodies, a group that performs at local hospitals.

Macalester is devoted to scientific collaboration and research plus the liberal arts aspect allows me to study subjects I may not have explored at a research university. The small size allows me to frequently meet individually with professors about homework, research, and life in general.

Conducting undergraduate research is the best decision of my college life. In March, I learned that I had been awarded a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, which provides $30,000 for each of the first three years of my graduate study. This is a great asset because students generally get to conduct research in the lab of their choice because they bring their own funding with them.

I want to become an organic chemistry professor, so I can have the same impact on my students that my Macalester professors have had on me.

PUBLISHED: 04/12/2013