Upper School

AP Chem Students Visit MacArthur Fellow’s Lab

This week students of AP Chemistry had the chance to meet with a 2018 MacArthur Fellow, Dr. Livia Eberlin, who works as a chemist at University of Texas-Austin. The MacArthur Fellowship Program, unofficially known as a "Genius Grant", is a prize awarded annually to individuals that have shown "extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction."

Dr. Eberlin and Mary King, one of her graduate students, took time to speak and give a tour of her lab in which they use mass spectrometry to differentiate more quickly and accurately between diseased and healthy tissues during surgery through use of a MasSpec pen that Dr. Eberlin's team has engineered.

This visited complemented the AP Chemistry class's introduction to mass spectroscopy and their own work with spectroscopy. George Moore ‘20 remarked, "Learning about mass spectrometry is one thing, but to see and touch the instrument is another, let alone to see how this instrument could change healthcare." Coby Sheehan ‘19 agreed, “The chance to broaden our view beyond the classroom has been incredibly rewarding. I love seeing the real world connection.”

The MasSpec Pen has won numerous awards and has the potential to revolutionize how cancer is treated in operating rooms. Cameron Wilkinson ‘19 remarked, “It was interesting to see the advances first hand on the frontier of cancer research. I understood more than what I thought I would have while listening to Dr. Eberlin.”

This is the second year students of St. Andrew’s AP Chemistry were able to speak in a small scale setting with Dr. Eberlin. AP Chemistry Teacher Bryan Dunn said,  "I am grateful to Dr. Eberlin and Mary for taking a time to speak with the students. It puts a small aspect of our class material into context. It also gives the chance for students to have a conversation with a MacArthur Fellow, which is a privilege that not many have."

More information about Dr. Eberlin’s project can be found at masspecpen.com.
Pictured are (left to right): Dr. Livia Eberlin, Mary King (UT Ph.D. candidate), George Moore '20, Coby Sheehan '19, Truman Cunningham '20, Pearce Strickland '20, Cameron Wilkinson '19, Fabio La Pietra '20, Sam Zapalac '20.

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