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Sam Glowasky, Women's Basketball

woman with long dark hair wearing a dark jacket standing on a cliff side of rock and grass

When did you get to Ireland and when did you return to the U.S.?

I left on a plane on June 1st and arrived on June 2nd. I returned to the U.S. on July 26th.

Where did your summer program entail in Ireland?

I was in a STEM summer research program with Arcadia University and they partnered with the University College of Dublin. I worked on organic chemical synthesis research in the Paul Evans Lab at UCD. Over the summer, I was tasked with making the organic compound: benzyl 3,4-dihydropyridine-1(2H)- carboxylate. The Evans Lab is working on synthesizing an antimalarial and anticancer compound called fluorofebrifugine. The compound I was tasked with making can be fluorinated and then chemically combined with a larger quinazoline to produce fluorofebrifugine. Over my two months, I succeeded in making benzyl 3,4-dihydropyridine-1(2H)- carboxylate through a series of electrochemical and nucleophilic substitution reactions. In the last couple of weeks, I was tasked with then converting my made compound into the larger fluorofebrifugine. With 1H-NMR and mass spectroscopy data, it was confirmed that fluorofebrifugine was made in low yields.

Does that mean your research worked and even more can be done? And who will now be responsible for continuing the research?

My advisor was Dr. Paul Evans and he was super helpful in assisting me with any questions I had and with any experiments. He was really pleased with my results, as he really was most interested in the production of the Cbz-protected piperidine with a pi bond which I made in high yields (99%). A Boc-protected piperidine with a pi bond had been made in the lab before in high yields but research hadn’t given high yields without using toxic reagents on the benzyl chloroformate (Cbz) protecting group yet. Once NMR spectroscopy had confirmed I made the desired compound and I then fluorinated that, I went on to make Cbz-protected fluorofebrifugine. When I said I made that in low yields, it means that the sample I ran through mass spectrometry showed a presence of the Cbz-protected fluorofebrifugine and of the starting material which was a quinazoline. (The quinazoline plus the fluorinated Cbz-protected piperidine with a pi bond yields the Cbz-protected fluorofebrifugine in a two-step reaction process). Dr. Evans was actually really pleased with this work as the fluorofebrifugine is more stable and easier to identify than febrifugine. Febrifugine is being tested on its use to disrupt protein synthesis as an anti-cancerous quality.

What did this internship/research teach you?

I’ve never worked in an organic chemistry lab, I actually take organic chemistry next semester so this research taught me a lot. Previously, I had only worked in one chemistry lab for the CMU chemical analysis class. In the Paul Evan’s lab this summer I had a lot more experience with Liquid-liquid extraction, experiments in inert atmospheres, flash column chromatography, thin layer chromatography, reflux reactions, use of rotavapors, and NMR spectroscopy. I feel like this differed from my CMU chemistry lab because we handled things on a lot larger scale with HPLC and gas chromatography and our procedures were very detailed. This summer in the Evan’s lab I worked with a lot more toxic chemicals on a smaller scale with limited procedures to follow. We used this site called Reaxys where you draw a chemical structure you want to make and it gives you published articles that have information on how to make the molecule. Some gave more detailed methods than others (sometimes the articles just gave what chemicals they combined and that was it) and some reactions had to be adapted based on safety and available materials. This taught me how to be resourceful and gave a trial and error type mindset. It also showed me that I love working in a lab that is very hands-on. 

We're you with other CMU students/staff there, is it people from other colleges, or were your coworkers all from Ireland?

There was no CMU staff in Ireland but Kol Rollins, a student-athlete on the CMU men's soccer team, was in the same Arcadia program at the University of Limerick in Ireland over the same time period working on biomedical engineering research. The group in my program at UCD in Dublin was around 19 students from universities all over the U.S. 

How did you hear about/get this opportunity to work? 

I actually heard about this opportunity from a former teammate. She was just brainstorming summer research ideas and I decided to look further into it with the study abroad office and I applied. 

We're you able to go anywhere for fun when you had free time? Where?

I went to a lot of places over the weekends. My trip farthest from UCD was to Paris with a couple of peers from the program. We saw the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and the Musée d'Orsay. I also went to Cork to see the Blarney Castle in Ireland, the Cliffs of Moher near Galway, the 40-foot beach in Dun Laoghaire, the University of Limerick to visit Kol, and the Titanic museum in Belfast. My favorite weekend trip was going to Howth which is just north of Dublin. The cliff walk along the water was so pretty and my friends and I hiked down to a beach cove. 

What’s your favorite memory from your trip?

I really enjoyed hiking in Glendalough where my friends and I hiked six miles around a lake at 1,300 feet in the mountains. It was one of the prettiest sights I’ve seen. 

Would you like to work overseas again in the future? Where?

After this trip, I definitely want to work or study abroad in the future. I may consider doing grad school overseas or just living in Europe for a couple of years if my future work allows.

What would be your advice for anyone looking to study abroad?

My advice to anyone looking to study abroad would be to just do it. I was undecided because of how that would work with my basketball schedule and training for basketball in the summer and if I should try to get an internship at a chemical company instead. But studying abroad really changed my perspective. Being a part of a new culture and meeting new people was amazing and seeing places I would never get to visit normally was so worthwhile. Not to mention I loved my research and lab mentor, Dr. Evans. I now want to travel as much as possible in the future and I’ve really made that a priority in my plans for the future.

How will you use this experience to continue your education at CMU and approach future internships?

I will use this experience in my future at CMU by using the skills I learned in my lab in future classes and internships. Chemical experience is really valuable to employers so it was really worthwhile to gain this experience.

Photo Gallery provided by Sam