“Working in lab was a great experience made even better by the summer environment.” —Fernando Marquez ’19

Fernando Marquez ’19
Columbia Heights, Minn.
Chemistry with Biochemistry emphasis

During my second year at Mac, I decided to major in chemistry with a biochemistry focus, so I needed a real experience outside of class and the associated lab. I was fortunate enough to get into a summer research lab with Professor Dennis Cao, focusing on organic chemistry synthesis. In lab, I practiced handling chemicals, creating and maintaining journals, and using high-end machines for chemical analysis.

Our research focuses on synthesizing new carbon-based aromatic imides and characterizing their electrochemical and photophysical properties. Our new versions of aromatic imides are expected to mimic some of the properties of metals. These molecules could potentially be used to replace some of the rare and/or toxic metals necessary for modern electronics.

Some future applications could include electronic implants in animals and light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Since these are new chemicals, we must do many different reactions to create the core of the chemicals and to add functional groups to the aromatic cores.

Working in lab was a great experience made even better by the summer environment. We had barbeques with professors, their families, and other student researchers. Living in the Twin Cities also made it easy for my friends and me to go shopping at nearby malls and eat from a diverse selection of restaurants.


Fernando’s research was funded by a grant to Macalester College from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute through the Precollege and Undergraduate Science Education Program.

March 20 2018

Back to top