This summer, Elaine Tsui ’15 will work on her undergraduate research in the Chemistry Department as an American Chemical Society Fellow.
Tsui, who is double majoring in English and chemistry, received the fellowship from the Society’s Connecticut Valley Section. Funding opportunities are available for those with interests in physics, biology, materials science, engineering and medicine.
As a fellow, Tsui will conduct self-directed research under the supervision of Albert J. Fry, the E.B. Nye Professor of Chemistry. In 2013, Tsui worked with Fry as a Hughes Fellow and studied “Andodic Oxidation of 1,1-Diphenylacetone in Various Alcohols.” She will continue this research for 10 weeks under the fellowship.
“I will be continuing work on a project that investigates the mechanism for the electrolytic conversion of 1,1-diphenylacetone to the benzhydryl alkyl ether,” Tsui said. “This particular reaction has been my main focus since I first started work in Professor Fry’s lab during my sophomore year.”
As a fellow, Tsui is also required to give a talk at next year’s Connecticut Valley Section-American Chemical Society Undergraduate Research Symposium.
Tsui was initially notified of the opportunity through Professor Fry.
Of particular appeal to Tsui was the funding opportunity that the fellowship presented. “During the year, with all my classes and other responsibilities, it’s difficult to be able to carry out some of my experiments that take hours to complete, and the summer is a great opportunity to just focus on my project in lab,” she said. “To be honest, I didn’t think I would actually get the fellowship considering how many excellent chemistry students are out there, so I was surprised and happy when I was notified that I had gotten it.”
With her most recent appointment, Tsui hopes to hone her skills as a chemical scientist. “I’m also hoping that I will be able to gain more familiarity with lab work and the entire process of using different techniques to investigate different questions we have,” she said.
From the experience, Tsui foresees a growing interest in chemical research surrounding her current work surrounding oxidation reactions in alcohols. “There is still so much to learn about this reaction,” said Tsui, “and the results we have been getting from some of our experiments continually surprise us.”
“I think being exposed to this environment and my own growing interest in my project and what my lab mates are working on have made me realize that I do want to get into a career in research,” she said.
Tsui is currently completing a semester abroad in England and will begin her research in June. She’s also planning to submit a paper for review and publication.