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Publication features student’s chemistry findings

| Thursday, August 31, 2017

Many scientists spend their careers dreaming of the day their work gets published. For Saint Mary’s senior Kate McMahon, that dream became a reality.

McMahon was published in the “Acta Crystallographica Section E: Crystallographic Communications” in July for studies completed in her Advanced Lab Course, where she worked towards synthesizing a new chemical. Earlier this year, she succeeded.

“The compound can be used in a variety of reactions,” she said. “It is one more piece to a bigger puzzle.”

McMahon credits her success to the professors who helped her along the way.

“The chemistry department as a whole is really good about advocating for us students and giving us the opportunities we need to do well,” she said. “Dr. Dominic Babbini worked with me directly on my research, but I can’t pick one that has helped me the most. They have all helped in different ways.”

Two other students — fifth-year student Madison Sendzik and junior Erica Slogar — also had their undergraduate research published this year, and all three women presented their findings in Washington D.C. at the American Chemistry Society (ACS) National Meet and Exposition, which took place from Aug. 20 to 24.

Slogar said in an email her Saint Mary’s education empowered her to make the most of this opportunity.

“I was nervous about presenting at first, but the atmosphere of poster presentations at the conference is very informal,” Slogar said. “It is more of a time to discuss what you learned to other scientists. I got to learn new ideas from chemists who knew different ways to analyze the data I collected.”

Sendzik explained that presenting her research introduced her to the field of professional chemistry.

“It was an excellent opportunity for networking and meeting other students and professionals who are interested in the same type of research as I am,” she said. “I’m really grateful that I could attend what will hopefully be my first ACS conference of many.”

McMahon said Saint Mary’s has helped develop her love of chemistry, which she discovered during high school.

“I took it because the class was required, but I fell in love with it,” she said. “I thought it was cool to be able to take the small parts of our reality and turn them into something meaningful. I love how I can apply chemistry to my everyday life.”

McMahon said she will continue to work with various faculty members and the administration to expand research opportunities on campus. She is in the midst of applying for fellowships but hopes to study abroad for a year after graduating. Following that, she will pursue graduate school.

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