February 12, 2007
Science@CSCB - Trading our Uniforms for Lab Coats

by Catherine Goromonzi, Niamh Keenan, Aisling Kelly, Ciara McElwee, Daniel O'Connor and Doireann Roantree


During the week of February 5-9, six of us from Loreto College on the Green, Loreto Foxrock, St Louis High School Rathmines, Coláiste Ráithín in Bray and Our Lady's School in Terenure visited the Centre for Synthesis and Chemical Biology (CSCB) at UCD. The week was filled with lots of hands-on work and visits to UCD's science facilities.

Photo of TY students at the CSCB during the week-long visit
From left: Ciara McElwee, Aisling Kelly, Catherine Goromonzi, Daniel O'Connor. Middle from left: Doireann Roantree and Niamh Keenan

On our first day we went into the research labs and started a paper chromatography experiment to find out which food dyes were in markers. After that we built underwater crystal gardens and wrote out the procedures for the experiments. In the afternoon we learned how to build molecular models by hand and on the computer.

Photo of Susan Kelleher and Catherine Goromonzi

From Left: PhD student Susan Kelleher and TY student Catherine Goromonzi
setting up the reaction to synthesise a sulfonamide

On day two we all split up to work in different labs where we made aspirin, sulfonamides and amino acids. Elaine Quinn gave us a tour of the UCD Conway Institute in the afternoon and Dr Russell Grant brought us on a tour of the microbiology labs and showed us how they grow bacteria.

Photo of Billy Fleming and Daniel O'Connor in the CSCB lab
From Left:PhD student Billy Fleming guides TY student Daniel O'Connor
through the process of synthesising aspirin

On the Wednesday morning we were back in the individual labs again working with the PhD students. Niamh continued making an amino acid with Sabrina Devereux and Philip Conway, Catherine did another experiment with Susan Kelleher on sulfonamides, Daniel purified his aspirin crystals with Billy Fleming, Aisling tested her aspirin crystals with help from Miriam Aylward and Doireann finished isolating lycopene from tomato puree with Dandan Yan.

Photo of Aisling Kelly and Miriam Aylward

From Left: TY student Aisling Kelly examines her Aspirin crystals
with PhD student Miriam Aylward

After lunch on Wednesday we began our team project to create a scientific poster. On Thursday morning we went to the Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) lab and met Dr Jimmy Muldoon. There we learned about NMR spectroscopy and Dr Muldoon ran a sample of Daniel's aspirin. We then tried to solve the mass spectrum of aspirin and after lunch we each took it in turns to proofread our slides for the team poster.

Photo of Dandan Yan and Doireann Roantree in the CSCB

From Left: PhD student Dandan Yan and TY student Doireann Roantree
take a break from extracting lycopene from tomato puree


A couple of us attended Professor Pat Guiry's team meeting early on Friday morning. After that we prepared for our presentation. Each TY student had to tell the group about the experiments they did in the research labs. We went for lunch and worked on this web article. At 3pm we attended the CSCB AccesScience heats which were very educational and we said our final goodbyes before heading home.

Photo of Niamh Keenan and
From Left: TY student Niamh Keenan and PhD student Philip Conway
set up a reaction to synthesise a non-natural amino acid Phenylalanine

Overall, the week was amazing; filled with laughter, molecules and lycopene. Working in the CSCB for a week gave us a brilliant insight into the field of science and showed us that science can be fun!

Here are some quotes from our group:


My week at the CSCB was brilliant, from making aspirin to extracting the red stuff in tomatoes. The experience was unforgettable and extremely worthwhile. I would recommend it to everyone.
Doireann Roantree from Loreto College on the Green

The CSCB was great. I learned loads while having fun and I met new friendly people. There is a great atmosphere and I think everybody should have this worthwhile experience.
Catherine Goromonzi from St Louis High School Rathmines

My week a the CSCB was amazing, from making an amino acid to meeting the research students. I'll never forget it. It was a really worthwhile experience. Anyone interested in science should do it.
Niamh Keenan from Loreto College Foxrock

This was a really interesting and fun week. We learned a lot about science and chemistry and experienced what it is like to work in science. It was great getting to know new people and work with them for a week!
Ciara McElwee from Our Lady's School Templeogue

I really enjoyed the week. I met new people, experienced working in a lab and learning about chemistry. I also learned new information about a career in science. Along with this being in UCD for the week gave me an insight into the college.
Aisling Kelly from Loreto College on the Green

The week was very educational and I learned a lot.
Daniel O'Connor from Colaiste Raithin in Bray


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