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Pomona College Senio's Research Recognized at National Science Conference

Pomona College senior Celeo “Danny” Solis has received a “best poster in chemistry” award at the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science national meeting, in Austin, TX. In addition to the 2004 SACNAS Student Poster Presentation Award, Solis will receive $250.

Solis’ poster, describing his research developing new methods for detecting hydrogen bonds, was one of 49 posters in chemistry and almost 500 posters overall to be presented at the 2004 SCANAS Conference. “It isn’t easy to reach the podium for a SACNAS award,” noted Dr. Refugio I. Rochin, executive director of SACNAS. Solis was one of three to receive the award in chemistry. He has also presented his research at conferences at U.C. Berkeley and U.C. Irvine.

Solis’ research has involved studying hydrogen bonding in the anti-tumor agent Epoxyquinol A, synthesizing model organic compounds, conducting computational analysis, and using NMR spectroscopy. The ultimate goal is to provide chemists with a "chemical ruler" for measuring the strength of hydrogen bonds. In collaboration with researchers at Boston University, his method has already been applied to studies of the promising new anti-tumor drug epoxyquinol, which inhibits the formation of blood vessels in tumors.

Solis, who was undecided on a major when he arrived at Pomona, notes that, “I haven't had one chemistry professor that wasn't encouraging and truly passionate about what they are teaching, which perked my interest in pursuing a career in chemistry.” Both Professor Wayne Steinmetz, who taught his first chemistry class at Pomona, and Professor Daniel O'Leary, with whom he has been conducting research since summer 2003, have been great mentors, he says. Both encouraged his participation in the American Chemical Society Scholars Program, from which he a 2003 scholarship and the 2004 ACS Slayton Evans summer research fellowship, one of only two given nationally. As part of the latter award, he attended the national ACS meeting in Philadelphia to present on a workshop panel titled: Undergraduate Research as a Springboard to Graduate School.

His research hasn’t been limited to chemistry. While spending a semester abroad in Spain, he served as a research assistant to Dr. Jose Manuel Friere and Dr. Elena Alvarez, at the National Institutes of Health (Instituto de Salud, Carlos III), where he designed a public health research project, dealing with the burden of disease. He has also participated in sociology and psychology research projects with professors through his Pomona classes.

At Pomona, Solis has taken full advantage of the college’s broad scope of classes. “In addition to majoring in Chemistry,” he explains, “I've been able to minor in Spanish, study abroad in Spain, take upper division sociology classes and even take a theatre class.” In his spare time, he is a residence hall resident advisor and a Chemistry Department Liaison. “I truly believe that Pomona has given me a broad base education that I can apply to whatever career path I take in the future,” says Solis. His current plans include attending graduate school and possibly a career in teaching.

Pomona College, one of the nation’s premier liberal arts institutions, offers a comprehensive program in the arts, humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. Its hallmarks include small classes, close relationships between students and faculty, and a range of opportunities for student research.