Kristen Maiden

Did you receive any recognition (awards, publications, scholarship) for your applied learning experience?
Distinguished Undergraduate Research Scholar, Publication in Tetrahedron
Briefly describe your applied learning experience

I synthesized new tryptamine compounds, which look like biologically active molecules. Each molecule I made is unique, with variations in three places. By using basic techniques and methods of organic chemistry, I created a series of new tryptamine compounds. We then sent my compounds to UNC Chapel Hill, where the Psychoactive Drug Screening Program tested the ability of my drugs to bind to brain receptors.

Did you receive any grants or other funding for your applied learning experience?
How did you get involved in this applied learning experience and what did you hope to gain from it?

I began working in Dr. Morgan's lab after taking his organic chemistry lecture class. I asked if he would accept a new student and mentioned my goal of completing an honors project. At one of our group meetings, he mentioned the tryptamine project. Right after the meeting, I went to Dr. Morgan to express my interest in working on the project, especially considering the biologic potential of the molecules. I hoped to learn new things about what features of tryptamines lead to binding with therapeutic receptors and to practice carrying out a project from start to finish.

What did you gain from this experience? What was challenging? What did you learn?

Completing this project made me better at time management and project logistics. At times, it was hard to move my project forward, whether I was screening possible reaction conditions or working to purify my compounds. But, I learned that persistence and a bit of creativity can go a long way when a project gets tough.

In what way will this experience make you a more viable candidate when you are seeking a job or applying for graduate study?

I am currently seeking to do research for at least a year after I graduate. Having this experience puts me at the front of the field of applicants for both research and medical school applicants. Conducting honors research shows my ability to use critical thinking skills and showcases my dedication to completing a project.