Research Project Description

The Enzymatic Transfer of Strained Ring Containing Bioorthogonal Tags

The most common ways to conduct bioorthogonal reactions— reactions that can proceed independently despite being in the midst of other potentially reactive materials— involves copper catalysts and can be toxic for the biological system being studied. This project looks at new ways to conduct bioorthogonal reactions without toxic copper catalysts. It will specifically determine the concentrations of material that is necessary for such reactions to occur.

This project is funded by a Small-scale 3M Collaborative Student-Faculty Research Grant.

Project Title

The Enzymatic Transfer of Strained Ring Containing Bioorthogonal Tags


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Soon after Kristina Poss ’14 completed her first semester of “Organic Chemistry” with James Wollack, assistant professor of chemistry, the two began working together on a grant-funded research project.

The project, The Enzymatic Transfer of Strained Ring Containing Bioorthogonal Tags involves biochemistry and bioorganic, subjects Poss says she enjoys and had wanted to learn more about.

Without any previous research experience, Poss admits the project seemed daunting. “I was overwhelmed in the beginning,” she says. “But I’ve with patience, persistence and experience, everything has been coming together.”

Problem solving and critical thinking are skills Poss has utilized and honed throughout the research process. “There is not a definite right answer when doing research,” she says. “It really enforces that liberal arts value of analyzing.”

Poss also says time management and being independent are also fundamental when conducting research. “You have an advisor but you don’t have someone sitting over your shoulder saying, ‘Finish this for tomorrow.’ You have to take the initiative.”

With her sights set on attending medical school, Poss says having a research background is important. “Each time I go in to the lab I am getting practical hands-on experience,” she says. “I’m learning a lot from the project academically.”

For Poss, the research project not only provides beneficial training, but it also serves as her on-campus job. She says having flexible work hours has helped her balance her other commitments which include being a member of the St. Kate’s cross-country and track teams.