Two Nicholls Students Present at National Chemistry Conference

Aaron Naquin and Autumn Andras pose with Dr. Uttam Pokharel. (Submitted)

THIBODAUX, La. — Two Nicholls State University chemistry majors presented their research at a national conference in April. 

Autumn Andras (BS ‘21) and Aaron Naquin (BS ‘21) shared their findings at the annual meeting of the American Chemical Society. Because of COVID-19 restrictions, ACS held the meeting virtually. 

Dr. Uttam Pokharel, assistant professor of chemistry, has supervised both students on their research. 

“Nicholls Chemistry provides an opportunity to conduct cutting-edge research for its undergraduate students,” Dr. Pokharel said. “The department owns the state-of-the-art instruments needed to conduct research. And the faculty work closely with undergraduate researchers.” 

Andras and Dr. Pokharel each gave presentations based on their research into cyclic lactones attached to ferrocene, an organometallic compound used in rocket fuel and cancer medicine. Andras’ research explores the influence of the ferrocene moiety on the formation of lactones. Dr. Pokharel’s presentation focused on the mechanism of the formation of lactones on ferrocene derivatives.

Naquin’s research took a deeper dive into methods of constructing supramolecules by connecting organic linkers with transition metal ions. Supramolecules happen when multiple chemical components are held together by intermolecular forces. 

“The research has helped them to improve their resume and build a network with people from academia and industry,” Dr. Pokharel said. “Autumn has been a bright student in the chemistry program from the beginning, and we are preparing a manuscript from her research for publication. Aaron has made steady progress once he started independent research and has received many awards and co-authored research.” 

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