Vol State Students Take Top Honors in Organic Chemistry Competition
People may not associate community college students with scientific research. However, Volunteer State Community College students may be changing that perception. Recently Vol State Math and Science students took top honors in a student competition at the Southeastern Regional Meeting of the American Chemical Society (SERMACS) in Nashville. Vol State was the only community college to compete and the Vol State students beat out more than eighty other students from universities across the South. Emmy Davis of Hendersonville, Nicole Gammons of Mt. Juliet, and Phillip Martinez of Lebanon received the first place award in the Organic Chemistry Division for their research presentation titled “Investigations of Green and Microscale Methods in the Synthesis of Several Flavones.” Chemists from all over the region did the judging. “I always love interacting with people who really know their stuff,” said Martinez. “A lot of them identified with what I told them I learned about recrystallization.” “I’m a pre-pharmacy major and this was my first research experience,” Davis said. “I can definitely see myself doing more research in the future. I’m considering pharmaceutical research as a possible career path now.” “It was amazing that we were the only community college there and that we won. It was definitely nerve-wracking because it was my first conference and there were so many presentations.” The students attended the conference as part of a Community College Undergraduate Research Initiative (CCURI) grant that also funds scientific research conducted by hundreds of Vol State students each year. This particular project was conducted by a Vol State undergraduate research class. The goal was to develop new labs for chemistry classes next semester. “To do this well at synthesis is unique in a community college setting,” said faculty member Parris Powers of the winning students. “I think this project allowed them to see the bigger picture, including the connections to pharmaceuticals and biochemistry.” “We are so proud for our students and for our faculty member, Mr. Powers,” said Vol State President, Dr. Jerry Faulkner. “This is a well-deserved honor reflecting their hard work and dedication. This award is also an acknowledgement of the high quality education and experience that Vol State provides to all students.” For more information about Math and Science programs at Vol State please visit www.volstate.edu/MathScience ### Pictured: The student researchers in the Vol State chemistry lab. Left to right: Nicole Gammons, Emmy Davis, Phillip Martinez and associate professor of Chemistry, Parris Powers.