Week 9 update

It’s the end of week 9 and it’s certainly hard to believe how quickly the summer is passing. This research session has certainly had its ups and downs. The saponification/esterification sequence that previously plagued my chemical synthesis has become facile. My latest run had an overall yield of 71% over 3 steps, which is an improvement over the 65% yield that was achieved in the first generation synthesis. The following reduction, though, has proved difficult. After doing the reaction three times, I’ve maintained consistent results but the yields have been very low (20-30%).  it’s been a true test of using all available skills and techniques to learn how to improve a reaction. We’ve currently devised a new plan to circumvent the alcohol with a new scheme. Unfortunately, this new plan somewhat dampens the efforts and progress we made to get to that point, but it appears to be a necessary solution.

Plants to Plastic: Polymerization of PA-11, a renewable plastic

I remember being about seven years old and asking my mom, after staring at a plastic straw for a few minutes, “Where does plastic come from?” Her response was the typical answer — plastic is made out of oil. As a child, I thought this was weird, because I knew that petroleum oil was an icky-sticky gross black liquid crud that cars needed for some reason and I couldn’t comprehend how it made the straw for a juice box, but I accepted the answer anyway.

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“Beginning”

We have now begun administering questionnaires and collecting data. I put the word beginning in quotation marks because, in reality, this study began long ago during brainstorming and conceptualization, but something about these past weeks feels like a real beginning. Our discussion, organization and planning are finally being put to use and the lab members and I are watching our hard work turn into the beginnings of results.

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