Niagara University was represented at the 254th American Chemical Society National Meeting & Exposition in Washington, D.C., by Danny Belmona, Christopher Swagler, LeAnn Richert, Rebecca Ford, Dr. Luis Sanchez, Elliott Martin, Emily Steiner, and Sarah Andres.

Seven Niagara University chemistry and biochemistry majors presented their research findings at the 254th American Chemical Society National Meeting & Exposition. The event took place Aug. 20-24 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C.

The event annually attracts thousands of chemists, chemical engineers, academicians, graduate and undergraduate students, and other related professionals.

The Niagara University students presented on topics they are investigating under the guidance of NU faculty members.

Two Niagara University seniors offered talks on organic synthesis research:

  • Rebecca Ford (Farmington, N.Y.), “Preparation of L- and D-vinylglycine-based building blocks for the synthesis of medically relevant complex molecules”
  • Danny Belmona (North Tonawanda, N.Y.), “An alternative synthetic pathway for a cytotoxic compound for lymphocytic leukemia”

Five others presented research posters in the fields of medicinal chemistry, organic synthesis and analytical chemistry:

  • Sarah Andres (Youngstown, N.Y.), “Cholestosome™ mediated delivery of nucleic acids into MCF7 cells”
  • Elliott Martin (Sheridan, N.Y.), “Development of a biaryl oxidative coupling-based route to the anti-tumor natural products TMC-95”
  • LeAnn Richert (North Tonawanda, N.Y.), “A Shapiro elimination/epoxidation-based strategy for the synthesis of cage molecule building blocks”
  • Emily Steiner (Youngstown, N.Y.), “Studies toward the synthesis of ent-artemisin: A potential anti-malarial compound”
  • Christopher Swagler (Grand Island, N.Y.), “Multi-technique analysis of naturally aged wood polymer composites”

All of the students are members of Niagara’s ACS student chapter.

Dr. Luis Sanchez, the chapter advisor at NU, noted that science students at Niagara are actively engaged in research during their undergraduate careers, which he said is a key component in their professional development.

“It is quite impressive to see the variety of research projects taking place in the B. Thomas Golisano Center for Integrated Sciences,” Dr. Sanchez said. “The best part is that our students are willing to take on challenges and work very hard in the lab. That makes me very proud.”

Two of the students who presented at the ACS conference were also awarded internships from the Research Experiences for Undergraduates program, a highly competitive award funded by the National Science Foundation. This past summer, Steiner interned at the University of Washington, while Ford enhanced her research acumen at the University of Connecticut.

Funding for the students to attend the ACS conference was provided by the Niagara University Student Government Association, McGlen-Gadawski Fund, department of biochemistry, chemistry and physics, College of Arts and Sciences, Academic Center for Integrated Sciences, NUSURF program, and the Provost’s Office.

Richert also received a travel award from the ACS Division of Organic Chemistry and Niagara University’s ACS student chapter received a National Meeting Travel Grant.

The American Chemical Society serves more than 157,000 members globally, providing educational and career development programs, products and services.

To learn more about Niagara University’s chemistry programs, please visit

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