Research at Hendrix

Jake Leffert '14

Jake Leffert

Chemistry major from Conway, Ark.

Undergraduate research project

This summer I have been working on two major projects for Dr. Goodwin that together are entitled "Preparation of Warfarin Metabolites and Chemical Transformations of Aspirin (Acetyl salicylic acid)". The first of these projects and deals with the anti-coagulant drug Coumadin (warfarin) and how it is metabolized by the body. The main goal is to synthesize enantiomerically pure forms of the warfarin metabolites. The second project deals with experiments that can be performed with chemicals found in and around the house. The goal of this experiment was to create experiments that could be used by collaborating universities in Rwanda that do not have the same means and resources that Hendrix is able to enjoy. Aline Umuhire-Juru '15, Robert Nshimiyimana '15, Qin Yin '13, Stephanie Davenport '13, Mr. Doug Hammon (high school chemistry teacher at Parkview Art and Science Magnet High School in Little Rock), and Mrs. Linda Desrochers have been working on these projects as well.

How did you find out about this opportunity?

I was in Dr. Goodwin's organic chemistry class in the spring semester; he emailed the class that he was looking for possible summer researchers as well as some description as to what summer research would entail.

How does your project fit with your interests and your professional plans for life after Hendrix?

Initially when I came to Hendrix I had intended to go to medical school afterwards. However, after experiencing the classes at Hendrix as well as working for a surgeon last summer, I have come to realize that I may not want to be a medical doctor after all. My interests now lay more toward chemistry; however I do not know much about the professions that this entails. So, this job has been very helpful, showing me what it is like to be a professor of chemistry and what research is actually like.

What has been the most eye-opening or valuable part of your experience?

I would say the most eye opening experience has been the reactions that have not worked. When you go into organic lab, your reactions (assuming you have read and follow the instructions) always work beautifully and end with the product you desire. However, in the research setting, I have come to realize that chemistry is more like a puzzle. A reaction can be run in one manner, and if it does not work then try it in a slightly different manner. You have to work logically and methodically to get to a pure product.