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Duquesne Chemistry Students Win Top Awards

Three Duquesne University undergraduate chemistry and biochemistry students presented winning posters in a competition at Carnegie Mellon University's Bridging Research Communities symposium.

Sara Katrancha, senior biochemistry major from Dunlo, Cambria County, took first place for her poster on the Fragile X syndrome. Her research with Dr. Rita Mihailescu, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry, analyzed the properties of mutated cellular protein in some patients of Fragile X syndrome. Her goal was to understand if the mutation caused the disease by either a gain or loss of function with respect to the normal cellular protein. (See Katrancha and Mihailescu discuss their work on YouTube.)

Kasey Devlin, sophomore chemistry major from Freeport, Armstrong County, won second place. Her poster, The Synthesis and Characterization of a Novel I 2-II-IV- VI4 Diamond-Like Semiconductor, explained her research of the structure and physiochemical properties of diamond-like semiconductors. Working with Dr. Jennifer Aitken, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry, Devlin had prepared several new diamond-like semiconductors and studied their crystal structures and properties.

Emily Spitzer, senior biochemistry major from Scranton, received sixth place for a project dealing with the hepatitis C virus. Her research, conducted with Mihailescu, in collaboration with Carnegie Mellon and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, used biochemical and biophysical methods to analyze the binding properties of a peptide nucleic acid. This peptide is designed to fight against the virus' developing resistance to current therapy received by infected patients.

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic research universities for its award-winning faculty and tradition of academic excellence. The University is nationally ranked by U.S. News and World Report and the Princeton Review for its rich academic programs in nine schools of study for nearly 10,000 graduate and undergraduate students, and by the Washington Monthly for service and contributing to students' social mobility. Duquesne is a member of the U.S. President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction for its contributions to Pittsburgh and communities around the globe. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Princeton Review's Guide to Green Colleges acknowledge Duquesne's commitment to sustainability.