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University of the Cumberlands Chemistry Students Present Research Results


University of the Cumberlands chemistry students recently attended the 61st South Eastern Regional Meeting of the American Chemical Society and presented the results of their summer research project. From left: Tiffany Suttles, Tina John, Dr. Julie Tan and Clint Creekmore.

WILLIAMSBURG, Ky. — Three University of the Cumberlands chemistry students recently attended the 61st South Eastern Regional Meeting of the American Chemical Society (SERMACS) in San Juan, PR, where they presented the results of research they conducted during the summer through the support of the Appalachian College Association (ACA) Ledford Research Scholarship Fund and Cumberlands’ Department of Chemistry.

The three senior chemistry majors, Tiffany Suttles from Barbourville, Tina John from Louisville and Clint Creekmore from Williamsburg, conducted their research under the supervision of Dr. Julie Tan, professor and chair of the Department of Chemistry, who accompanied them to SERMACS, on October 22-24.

“I am very blessed to have had such a wonderful opportunity; not only to be able conduct research but also to present my research to others and to view the works of others in the field of chemistry,” said Suttles.

The trio presented a paper, entitled “A Facile Synthesis of 7-Hydroxy-4-Methylcoumarin via Microwave Irradiated Solvent-Free Pechmann Reaction.”

“Coumarins are natural compounds that are broadly used in cosmetics, seasonings, photochemistry and pharmaceutical industries,” said Tan.

She went on to explain, “The Pechmann reaction is the method widely applied to synthesize coumarins. The students’ project focused on developing a facile and simple preparation of 7-hydroxy-4-methylcoumarin via microwave irradiated solvent free condition in a common household microwave oven. The synthetic method that they developed eliminates the production of acidic waste streams associated with conventional Lewis acid catalyst and constitutes a greener alternative to the classical Pechmann reaction.”

Creekmore appreciated the fact that the learning experience went beyond the field of chemistry. “Another great opportunity was being able to tour Puerto Rico. Being in a different culture with different foods, lifestyles and language was an exciting opportunity,” he said.

According to Tan, the project was, “[a] continuation of our effort to ‘green’ the chemistry curricula at University of the Cumberlands.” This is the second year that Cumberlands students have conducted research to develop more environmentally benign laboratory experiments for the organic chemistry laboratory, and this is the second group to present their results at a meeting of the American Chemical Society.

John expressed her gratitude for the opportunity to present the group’s findings in such a prestigious setting. “It was a real testament to our chemistry department at UC," she said.