Meet Christian Strong, a chemical engineering major from McAllen, he is part of the UTSA Top Scholars program, which recruits students from across Texas who excel in academics, leadership and service.
Last summer Strong worked as an organic chemistry research intern at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, helping to improve the synthesis of an antiretroviral used to bolster the quality of life of individuals living with HIV. Working under MIT chemistry professor Timothy Jamison and alongside an MIT doctoral student, he had a broad aim of his research to make the drug more accessible to vulnerable populations.
This kind of research doesn’t stray too far from what Strong has been doing in the organic chemistry lab of UTSA professor Doug Frantz for the past two years. The bulk of that work has gone toward the development of new catalysts that can ultimately be used to create natural products, pharmaceuticals and commodity chemicals in a way that’s more cost-effective and environmentally responsible.
Although he’s a chemical engineering major, Strong plans to pursue a Ph.D. in chemistry with a focus in organic chemistry after he wraps up his undergraduate education at UTSA. Strong says his longtime goal is to apply scientific discoveries to solve global problems, and working as a medicinal chemist in the field of pharmaceutical research will give him the opportunity to do so.
“Dr. Frantz has opened my eyes to the interdisciplinary requirements of the modern chemistry laboratory, which has made me feel more comfortable in my plan to pursue graduate studies in chemistry,” he said. “Beyond this, the open-mindedness and support offered by many of UTSA’s faculty and staff members has helped me develop this mindset.”
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