Sophomore Chemist Off To A Fast Start

By Michael Seele
Chronicle Editor

In a fledgling scientific career that has already seen one of his articles published in a top journal, sophomore John Gleason has won a prestigious grant that will allow him to conduct research over the summer.

Gleason is one of 20 students nationally chosen for a $5,000 Pfizer Summer Fellowship, which will allow him to continue his research into new ways of making potential pharmaceutical compounds in the laboratory of Prof. Amir Hoveyda (Chemistry).

Last year, a paper co-authored by Gleason detailed a new technique for efficiently synthesizing certain natural products. The process has important implications for pharmaceutical research, Hoveyda said, and was published in the prestigious Journal of the American Chemical Society .

"This is the most difficult journal in chemistry to get papers accepted in," Hoveyda said. "I don't know of any other college freshman who has had a paper published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society . People have gotten their PhDs without getting published there."

John Gleason. (Photo by Gary Gilbert)

This summer, Gleason, who plans a career in chemistry research, will use the technique to synthesize a new, medicinally important compound that has anti-fungal properties, he said.

Other Pfizer fellowship winners hail from such institutions as Columbia, Princeton and Stanford universities, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

"John is the third Boston College undergraduate to win this fellowship in the past three years," Hoveyda said. "That says there is a very high quality of teaching here, but also that undergraduates can take part in world-class chemistry research."

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