Future Dentist’s Progression through Employment in an Organic Chemistry Laboratory

By Caitlin Bussard

Caitlin BussardI recently graduated with a major in biology and a minor in chemistry at North Dakota State University (NDSU). During my undergraduate studies, I was gifted the opportunity to work in a green chemistry laboratory under the direction of Dr. Mukund Sibi. My primary task encompassed synthesizing bio-based monomers that maintain high functional properties useful for polymer synthesis: 5-Hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF), 2,5-Diformylfuran (DFF), 5-Chloromethylfurfural (CMF), 3.3′-(2,5-furyl)bis (acrylic acid), 3,3′-(2,5-furandiyl)bis (ethyl acrylate), 3,3’-(2,5-furandiyl)bis (methyl acrylate), 3,3′-(2,5-furandiyl)bis(isopropyl acrylate), 5-(Ethoxymethyl)-2-furaldehyde, and 5,5′(oxy-bis(methylene)bis-2-furfural (OBMF). These molecules are imperative to the scientific community as they may play a role in the synthesis of sustainable fossil fuel alternatives.

I stepped into the laboratory as a novice, maintaining a limited understanding of organic chemistry: processes, reactions, molecular structures, etc. As time progressed, I found myself surpassing fundamental memorization and delving into conceptual understanding. A conceptual understanding of organic chemistry became imperative as I communicated scientific findings of complex processes to diverse audiences. The ability of one to execute precise communication is a key component of my chosen career path, dentistry; I will use communicative abilities to better connect with patients, staff, and other dental professionals. Aside from communication, abilities such as organization and attention to detail have largely progressed. A great thanks to the NDSU Department of Chemistry, Dr. Mukund Sibi, Eric Serum, and Catherine Sutton for providing an environment conducive to learning and one that has impacted my professional career.