JasLynn Murphy aspires to become a research chemist, perhaps with the National Institutes of Health or the Department of Defense or the Environmental Protection Agency.  Her undergraduate research with Dr. Stefanie Whitson at UTC prepared her for a summer internship in Washington, D.C., at the National Science Foundation – Research Experiences for Undergraduates program at Georgetown University.  She’s also been selected to attend a program at MIT, DOW-MIT ACCESS, designed “to introduce students to the exciting possibilities of graduate-level education in chemical engineering, materials science, and chemistry.”

JasLynn Murphy (far right) visits the White House during her internship this past summer.

JasLynn Murphy (far right) visits the White House during her internship this past spring.

Murphy is a senior and a member of the Quadrangle chapter of Mortar Board Society, the premier national honor society recognizing college seniors for outstanding achievement in scholarship, leadership and service.

She began her work with Whitson last spring and continues to work in the current fall semester, focusing on isolating and identifying small-molecule toxins in blood samples that can accumulate and lead to disease states in humans.

“The experimental techniques that JasLynn learned at UTC both in classes and in research – high-performance liquid chromatography, nuclear magnetic resonance, mass spectrometry, chemical extractions and syntheses – are ones that she used in the summer internship as well. There are so many different avenues and applications of chemistry – the study of how biological molecules behave, the creation of new materials through organic and inorganic syntheses, the analysis of environmental samples and toxins, calculational methods to study how molecules will behave under stresses, and many more. But all of them have a basic foundation in the same types of experimental techniques,” Whitson explained.

Murphy’s paid summer internship allowed her to explore and identify the chemical properties of two compounds.  This research could lead to use in pharmaceutical drugs.  Her research will be included in a report to be published in an upcoming scholarly journal.

“The experience gave me an opportunity to work more with organic chemistry, and helped me realize I want to pursue analytical chemistry in graduate work,” Murphy explained.

The internship took Murphy outside the laboratory walls.  Murphy and her student colleagues enjoyed a Washington Nationals game, some sightseeing, and decided which famous cupcakes with sprinkles they liked best.

This semester, Murphy will attend an all-expense paid weekend at MIT with “workshops, talks, tours and interaction created for select underrepresented minority undergraduates in the U.S.”  Murphy will meet professors and students working on research.  She’ll also learn how to approach the graduate school application process.  And she’ll have a chance to explore Boston and Cambridge.

“One of the many wonderful attributes of JasLynn’s is her motivation to go and seek out opportunities that will help her succeed. What is great about working with her in research is the excitement she experiences when she gets a result. She carries a challenging class-load academically, while contributing to university community programs that help others in a meaningful way. Last year JasLynn served a mentor in the minority mentorship program, vice-president of the residence hall association, and as a teaching assistant in multiple chemistry lab classes,” Whitson said.

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