By Iris Mahan, University Relations Intern

Chemistry major and Grote Scholar Ashley Cardenal has received a travel grant to a national conference so that she can present her research, which could lead to a more effective way to treat cancer.

Cardenal, a Grote Scholar, is the recipient of an American Chemical Society travel grant.  She will present “Photoinduced-DNA Cleavage Activity of Rhodium Complexes” at the Society’s 243rd national conference, to be held March 25th-29th in San Diego.

Cardenal’s work will be one of more than 8,000 papers introduced to the conference’s 15,000 participants.

Conducting her study with Dr. Jisook Kim, Cardenal has been monitoring the effects of chemicals similar to cisplatin, an important chemotherapy drug, on cell function. By introducing certain complexes to different wavelengths of light, she is able to examine the differences in the way the cell’s DNA is altered.

“Basically, it gives the ability to restrict cancer treatment to a certain area – instead of exposing the entire body, which could lead to lessened side-effects and more effective treatment,” said Cardenal.

Although she is no stranger to winning awards for her studies (she was a Higdon Textbook Award winner in 2010 and a Murray Raney Scholarship recipient in 2011), receiving a travel grant to present to the largest professional scientific society in the world is an award unlike many others.

“UTC averages about 7 students per year making research presentations at the spring ACS meeting in the past decade. Ashley is the first to receive support to attend,” said Dr. Greg Grant, Grote Professor in the Department of Chemistry.

The entire chemistry department is very vocal about their pride in Cardenal’s exceptional hard work.

“Ashley is a phenomenal student, and this is a very special honor,” said Chemistry Professor Dr. Gretchen Potts.

Cardenal received this grant as a member of the ACS student affiliates chapter (the UTC Chemistry Club). It is offered to any active student chapters by the ACS to help students attend national meetings.

Cardenal is excited for the opportunity to present at the conference.

“I really enjoy both talking about my research and being able to learn about what other people are doing. One of the best parts of presenting is hearing the input of other researchers on your project,” she said.

After graduation, Cardenal plans to pursue her Ph.D. in Chemistry, and “continue doing research in the academic sphere.”

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