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Madison "Maddy" Jenner: Research experience lends a broader view (student)

maddy jennerMadison “Maddy” Jenner is a junior majoring in chemistry from Traverse City, Mich., and a College of Natural Science Deans Research Scholar.

When I transferred to Michigan State University for my sophomore year, I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to major in. My freshman year at Northwestern Michigan Community College in Traverse City found me majoring first in business, and then switching to engineering, but neither were areas of study I felt passionate about.

At MSU orientation, I was advised by a research faculty member to get involved in undergraduate research because of the amazing benefits it provided—including finding the right career path. So I took this advice and, one month after doing research in an organic chemistry lab, I officially declared chemistry as my major.

I quickly learned that research had much more to offer than discovering career interests. Through the organic chemistry lab headed by Professor James Jackson, I was able to learn chemical techniques that are not offered in traditional classes, network with graduate students and faculty members, and master laboratory skills.

Through this research experience, I and other colleagues in the Jackson lab have found a way to fine-tune hydrogen bonding through aromaticity. By making subtle changes to a molecule, you can significantly increase or decrease its bonding energy. This concept is extremely important because it can explain complex interactions that have never been discovered before.

For example, this type of research is notable in the drug industry. Over 70 percent of all drugs contain aromatic compounds. Perhaps one of the most common is Ibuprophen. The research we have done gives information on the small-scale interactions of aromatic compounds, which allow for large-scale applications in areas like drug development.

An incredible advantage to this research is increasing the selectivity and efficiency in drugs. As a result, unwanted interactions in the body and the potential for someone to develop side effects from taking the drug are reduced.  The precision in techniques, implications of the project and the rewarding experiences gained from being a part of the research group are all reasons I have decided to pursue a career in drug development.   

After graduation from MSU with a bachelor of science in chemistry, I plan to earn my doctorate degree in pharmaceutical sciences.

I could not have imagined where I would be today without the opportunities provided by Michigan State and the Jackson research group. Not only have I found my career path by being connected to a caring scientific community, but I am able to continue learning, researching and discovering for the rest of my time at MSU.