When he is not dominating the racquetball courts, senior chemistry major Dmitro Martynowych is looking to the future with his research on complex indole and quinoline structures with Michael Fennie, Ph.D., here at The University. His journey into research began in his sophomore year, when he, like most sophomore science majors, was enrolled in organic chemistry. It was during his time in both lab and lecture with Fennie that he began to consider the possibility of a career in research. In order to fill his desire for research, he applied for, and was accepted to, The University’s Honors program.
Prior to beginning his work on his honors thesis, he sought opportunities to explore the diverse field of chemistry research. He found his first opportunity in Rhode Island through a National Science Foundation-funded research project. In Rhode Island, Martynowych explored organic chemistry with a focus on environmental chemistry. He also spent a summer at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Massachusetts, during the summer following his junior year.
During his time at Woods Hole, he studied sensor and instrument developments for marine systems. This opportunity was given to him. The combination of these two projects along with the inspiration he found in synthetic organic chemistry lab and Fennie’s guidance allowed him to gain both the skills and knowledge he needed to decide on a direction to take for his own research.
“My current work is on developing novel methodologies for the synthesis of complex indole and quinoline structures,” Martynowych said.
As a senior member of the honors program, Martynowych is preparing his honors thesis for the spring. His work focuses on complex indoles and quinoline structures, which are heterocyclic structures that hold major implications in pharmaceutical works. These structures function by allowing specific functional groups, or atoms, to be placed on one of three different binding sites on the structure. A majority of the atoms that are placed on the sites in his lab are nitrogen atoms. Each of the three R-groups may serve a specific function in the overall function of the molecule. One of the R-groups may function mainly as the medicinal part of the drug, or the compound that serves to make people better. Another will work as an inhibitor, and at the last site Martynowych can place just about any atom or group of compounds that he would like. The variety of functions for these compounds is nearly endless.
Martynowych’s work focuses on ways to standardize and test the pathways in which these materials are synthesized. He is currently comparing previously tested methods for the synthesis of heterocycles that have worked in the past to current methods. His work is based on current research, which had made use of reduction to break isoxalzolines, and how this technique applies to the heterocycle work he has been doing.
Starting as a sophomore in Fennie’s organic chemistry lab, Martynowych has taken an interest he obtained and transformed it into a passion. Through the experience from numerous research opportunities here at The University and through his two summer research positions, he has developed a talent for research. While his current work does focus on organic chemistry, he does not plan to pursue the subject in graduate school. Martynowych plans to go on and earn his Master’s degree in analytical chemistry. He hopes to one day turn this zeal for research and chemistry into a career.