Catherine Larsen

1. What is your specific area of research (include the name of your faculty and/or laboratory)?
I have been working with Professor Keith A. Woerpel in Organic Chemistry. We developed a comprehensive, predictive model for reactions of tetrahydrofuran acetals, the core structure for numerous anti-AIDS drugs (like AZT) and anti-cancer drugs.
2. When and how did you first get involved in research?

Professor Woerpel was teaching the first quarter O-Chem, and I enjoyed the class so much that I asked partway through the class if I could do research with him. He said, "Yes."

3. How has research enhanced you education?

I was pre-med, and doing research in this Chemistry Lab with great grad students and a mentor who really invested in my intellectual development and made me realize that a career in Chemistry would allow me much more of a chance to problem solve and be creative. I strongly believe that research is the best way for students to figure out whether a particular career is right for them.

4. What has been you favorite experience with research (include any interesting stories or specific events)?

The people! I've made so many friends in the Woerpel Lab and in the rest of the Chemistry Department. They are all very special people with whom I plan to keep in touch through the years.

5. What are your future plans and how has being involved in research helped to prepare you to meet your goals?

I'll be going off to earn my Ph.D. in Chemistry. Working with Professor Woerpel, I have not only learned a great deal of Chemistry, I have developed my writing, problem solving, and speaking skills. I am planning on becoming a professor, and it doesn't hurt that my research won me NSF and NDSEG (National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate) fellowships for grad school in addition to a Goldwater and a Pfizer SURF as an undergraduate.

6. What advice would you give to a student interested in pursuing a faculty-mentored undergraduate research project or creative activity?

Go for it! Do your research about what the professor does first, though. It is important to show that you are interested in the field and that you are willing to put in the time. It will take much more of your time than you would expect.

Past Researchers of the Month

Dec. '99 Gina Rappleye
Nov. '99 Maria Rendon
Oct. '99 Scott Avecilla
Sep. '99 Peter Krutzik
Aug. '99 Raj Gopalakrishnan
Jul. '99 Christina Rahn
Jun. '99 Catharine Larsen
May '99 Han Kang
Apr. '99 Bonnie Pau
Mar. '99 Sharla Meeks
Feb. '99 Simin Bahrami
Jan. '99 Catherine Le
Recent Year