Illinois State University senior Jacob Grabowski of Crete, Illinois, has been selected by the American Chemical Society to receive the prestigious Division of Organic Chemistry Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF).
The competitive fellowships are awarded on the merits of students’ research proposals, academic records, faculty recommendations, and a student’s passion for laboratory science. The $5,000 fellowship is designated for research to be carried out in the summer of 2018. Other SURF fellowships were awarded this year to students at Yale University, University of Michigan, and Case Western Reserve University.
Grabowski’s research focuses on the development of new reactions that are either inspired by or directed toward natural products. “Jacob’s hard work is helping to further understand a reaction used to synthesize biologically active organic molecules, some of which show promise against cancer and other diseases,” said Associate Professor of Chemistry Andy Mitchell, in whose lab Grabowski conducts research.
Mitchell explained that for millennia, human beings have mined the natural world for remedies and cures—think of aspirin, quinine, and penicillin. It is only in the last two centuries that chemists have stepped away from being dependent on natural products directly from the environment. “Jacob is looking at an organic synthesis that is inspired by natural products.”