An Elizabethtown College Chemistry student is gaining valuable experience this summer working one-on-one with a Chemistry faculty mentor to research the potential of Oxovanadium in acting as an insulin mimetic.

The independent student research and collaboration with an Etown faculty mentor, is part of the Summer Scholarship, Creative Arts and Research Projects (SCARP) program.

Learn more about SCARP.

Title of Research

Synthesis and Characterization of Oxovanadium Compounds as Potential Insulin Mimetic Molecules

Student Researcher

Kaitlyn Mercando ’22 – Chemistry, concentration in Forensic Science

Faculty Mentor

Jeff Rood, Associate Professor of Chemistry

What are you researching?

Kaitlyn: Oxovanadium (IV) complexes have numerous applications, and the complexes that this research is focusing on has shown potential in acting as an insulin mimetic. The goal of this research is to synthesis and fully characterize a new series of oxovanadium complexes and then investigate the insulin-mimetic properties of the complexes with adipose cell culture work. Etown student viewing sample through a microscope.

Why did you choose this topic?

Kaitlyn: This research topic integrates both chemistry and biology in such a way that will expand upon and incorporate new techniques and skills that would be beneficial as I look into either continuing my education or pursue a career in the forensics field. In addition, the concept of complexes having the potential to mimic insulin is fascinating.

What is the most interesting aspect of this research?

Kaitlyn: Synthesizing a compound, going through different methods to try and characterize the compound, and then problem-solving has been the most interesting aspect of this research for me so far. Determining whether the compound synthesized is the intended or unintended product from the gathered data is like solving a puzzle. Going through this research process is like one big mystery game, which is rewarding when working through it.

How has Dr. Rood helped you throughout this experience?

Kaitlyn: Dr. Rood showed me how to use the different instruments and skills that I haven’t used before. We always meet up at least twice a day to tell each other ideas on what occurred, what the next step should be, and if we have an idea on a different approach. Dr. Rood allows me to come up with my own ideas on what might have happened and new approaches, as well as telling me his own thoughts. This process has improved my ability to interpret data and devise a different method.

Hear from the Faculty Mentor – Jeff Rood

“Kaitlyn is working on a fairly new project to my lab that has potential to develop into an interdisciplinary project with Biology,” said Rood. “It’s a challenging project given that it is new to all of us, but I have appreciated Kaitlyn’s dedication to the work, and she is beginning to make some nice progress as the summer goes on. She has the ability to think through problems and develop ideas to keep the project moving forward, which is exciting to see!”

“SCARP is a great time to have students focus on the research process,” said Rood. “From learning how to find information in the literature to designing and carrying out experiments and interpreting the results, the summer provides an uninterrupted time to spend learning about the project.”