-story by Kaitlyn Sewell '15
Trang Tran '15 and Chemistry Professor Serge Schreiner
“I tried to synthesize compounds with different ligands, attaching them to the metal, iridium.” Tran says. “Then, I determined their structures and analyzed their catalytic activities in the hydrogenation of carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide.”
Under the guidance of her SURF mentor, Chemistry Professor Serge Schreiner, Tran spent her summer arduously working in the lab on her research with iridium complexes using an NMR spectrometer to determine the structure of these complexes.
“We are specifically interested in reacting carbon monoxide or carbon dioxide with hydrogen in the presence of an iridium catalyst,” says Schreiner. “We plan to turn these carbon compounds into useful products, such as methanol or methane, which can be used as alternate energy sources.” Tran’s ultimate goal is to use her findings to better the environment. She presented her recent findings at the SURF Symposium.
First-Year ExperienceTran is a chemistry major and an economics minor whose First-Year Experience (FYE) course, Myth Busters, was taught by Professor George Lowry (business) and Catherine Franssen '99 (biology). “I learned that everything relates,” Tran says. “Something you study in one class is connected to the study in another.”
International Student ExperienceOriginally from Vietnam, Tran long dreamed of coming to the U.S. She was impressed by R-MC’s sense of community and by the college’s scholarship opportunities.
Pam Dinh ’14, an economics/business and accounting major, was Tran’s International Assistant. R-MC’s International Assistants provide help and support by assisting new international students in their adjustment to life in the United States.
“I picked Trang up from the Richmond Airport when she arrived from Vietnam,” Dinh says. “As nervous as she was, she wanted to learn more about R-MC. She was very interested in the American culture, and she taught me a little more about my own culture—I am also Vietnamese, but I was raised in America.” Tran will serve as an International Assistant for the 2013-2014 year.
Campus InvolvementTran is the community coordinator for Nourish International, an on-campus program that supports the empowerment and enablement of impoverished communities. She is also a new member of the Service Fellows program and she is a member of Pi Mu Epsilon, a math honors society, and Chi Beta Phi, a science honors society.
“I really enjoy the academic life at R-MC,” Tran shares. “All of my professors are very nice and are always willing to help me with my studies.”
Future PlansTran presented her SURF findings at the SURF Symposium on August 8, and she will present her findings at the National American Chemical Society meeting in spring 2014 in Dallas, Texas. She is also preparing for medical school.
“I want to be a doctor for cancer patients, and I want to help the environment through my research,” she says.
Generous SupportThe SURF program was established in 1995 through a generous gift made by Ben ’64 and Peggy Schapiro. The Schapiros continue to support this program, which promotes scholarly undergraduate research by R-MC students in all disciplines.