This summer, BioLEC was delighted to participate in the Princeton Chemistry Summer Visiting Faculty Research Partnership (VFRP), organized by the Frick Laboratory. The VFRP is designed to foster productive, enduring collaborations with faculty from institutions that serve historically excluded students. It funds faculty members from universities that do not have large doctoral programs, and from groups that have been historically or are currently underrepresented in the chemical research community, to partner with Princeton Chemistry faculty members and join them in their Princeton lab over the summer. Each visiting faculty member is invited to bring two students with them to participate in research projects.

Prof. Rashanique Quarels from Rowan University and her two students, Jon and Zach, were partnered this summer with Princeton BioLEC PI Prof. Rob Knowles. Prof. Quarels’ work focuses on photocatalysis with visible light to generate value-added chemicals and antibiotics from waste products and starting materials, making it a great fit for a BioLEC collaboration. “This choice of research path resulted from my desire to create,” she says, “and moreover to contribute to the improvement of human health, in this case, by generating medicinally relevant motifs from aryl sulfonates.”

Prof. Quarels is keen to show her undergraduate students the possibilities of a postgraduate research program, just as she also discovered research as an undergraduate. “I didn’t know that research and teaching were an option until I was an undergraduate: a mentor encouraged me to investigate different research groups. Research is a passion I found as an undergrad, and it stuck with me.”

This is the second summer that Prof. Quarels and her students have spent in Princeton, and she feels the program is not only helpful to her students and group during the summer – the ongoing partnership with Princeton is also proving useful in the long term. “To continue the relationships and collaborations that I’ve established in the Department, along with things like access to the Princeton library facilities, is invaluable as I continue to grow my research group.”