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Southwestern Student Named American Chemical Society Scholar

Carissa Fritz, a junior biochemistry major at Southwestern, has been named an American Chemical Society Scholar.

Carissa Fritz, a junior biochemistry major at Southwestern, has been named an American Chemical Society Scholar.

The American Chemical Society’s Scholars Program gives merit-based scholarships of up to $5,000 per academic year to students who want to enter the fields of chemistry, biochemistry or chemical engineering, or who are seeking two-year degrees in chemical technology.Scholarship recipients also are matched with mentors who can help guide them in their careers.

“Only about 120 students a year are named ACS Scholars, so this is quite an honor for Carissa,” said Gulnar Rawji, associate professor of chemistry. “I am really proud of her. She was competing with students from very highly regarded institutions such as MIT, Stanford and Yale.”

Fritz has conducted research with Rawji the past two summers through the Chemistry Department’s Welch Summer Research Program, which is funded by the Robert A. Welch Foundation of Houston. Their research involves synthesizing platinum (II) and copper (II) metal complexes and observing how they interact with DNA. Such complexes have the potential to be developed as therapeutic and diagnostic agents for diseases such as cancer.

Fritz and fellow Southwestern student Tammy Nguyen presented a poster on the work on copper (II) complexes at the American Chemical Society National Meeting held in New Orleans in early April.

Fritz said she was “surprised and excited” to learn of her scholarship from the ACS. “It is a wonderful opportunity and I am very grateful to have received it,” she said. “I hope to take advantage of their mentor program to learn more about the various career opportunities that the study of chemistry affords.”

After graduating from Southwestern, Fritz plans to pursue graduate studies in biochemistry.