Nine students are working in the Building Excellence in Science and Technology (BEST) summer research program designed and supervised by Desmond. This program which provides early research experiences for area high school and college students is supported by his NSF grant. Three of the students just recently completed the twelfth grade year from the Berrien County Mathematics and Science Center and six of the students are college students - one from the University of Michigan and five from Andrews.
A variety of innovative synthetic organic chemistry projects and computational/molecular modeling work are being done. One of these projects involves making a wide variety of chalcone stilbenes or chalbenes and studying their spectroscopic properties. The precursor chalcones and stilbenes are plant natural products whereas chalbenes are not naturally occurring and have not been synthesized or characterized. The chalbene molecules are highly conjugated and are expected to possess interesting and perhaps unique electrooptical properties.
Other projects that progress is being made on includes (a) making new types of multicationic dyes belonging to the Malachite Green family, (b) synthesizing seven membered ring molecules via novel oxidative methods, (c) studying the interaction of azachalcones with toxic organophosphates and (d) preparing new antibacterials and antiparasitics from novel chalcone structures. Every day, BEST students are diligently making new molecules and determining their structures using NMR, IR and UV-Vis spectroscopy.