Fourth year Honours chemistry student James Marsh has had a busy four years here at CBU. Not only is he a full-time student, James works for the Chemistry Dept. conducting research; most recently having the opportunity to take part in a twelve-week research internship abroad in Gießen, Germany.

Currently, James is working on his thesis involving the coupling of proline to a solid support. The goal is to make a heterogeneous catalyst that is capable of catalyzing aldol reactions. His previous project at CBU involved working to embed or incorporate fluorescent ligand into a periodic mesoporous organosilicas (PMO) in order to make a heterogeneous metal sensor.

“An academic/research career in chemistry has a lot of freedom that allows people to explore their ideas and interests. It can involve very independent work that can feel very rewarding.”

The research James conducted while in Germany  involved boron chemistry; by incorporating boron-nitrogen groups into acenes it can stabilize them without adversely changing the electronics of the molecule. Acenes are used in electronic devices since they are good semiconductors.

“It was great to experience a much larger university. Compared to CBU it was a big change in the way things works. I can now appreciate how close everyone in chemistry is at CBU. I learned a lot involving chemistry, including several useful techniques for sensitive reactions that will come in handy in the future.”

One of the reasons James chose to go into the chemistry program was that he was really interested in understanding topics on the molecular level. By having this base understanding of chemistry it can make it much easier to really understand some other subjects such as biology. An example is the iron complex present in haemoglobin that facilitates the transport of oxygen through the body. By understanding inorganic chemistry it can make the detailed topic much easier to grasp.

“My advice is that it does get easier. I think a lot of people find first year chemistry challenging and it discourages them from going further in chemistry. Don’t be scared because it does get easier and more enjoyable after first year. If you do go into chemistry there are a lot of research opportunities that are offered by the professors, which can be a lot of fun and good money.”