Student will present project at national conference

Friday, March 30, 2001

Lacey, Wash.- A Saint Martin's College chemistry student is working on a synthesis project that, when finished, could be used as a map for organic chemistry students around the nation.

Ryan Aufort, a junior biology major with a minor in chemistry, is working on a synthesis project that essentially would turn mothballs into vanilla in five simple steps.

"It's hard to find a lab for organic students that allows them to perform a multiple step lab with relevance to what they're studying in class," Aufort said of the need for his project. "This project will serve as an educational tool for future students, whereas it's a research tool for me."

Aufort, who began working on the synthesis project in January, already has finished three of the five necessary steps. He will be presenting his findings at the American Chemistry Society's National Spring Conference April 2 in San Diego. The conference runs from April 1-5.

"This is THE conference in chemistry," said Nick Drapela, Aufort's chemistry professor at Saint Martin's. "There will be representatives from almost every higher education institution in the country and some international representatives.

"By using five common chemistry transformations, Ryan will be able to take moth balls and make something that smells very nice. Once he's finished this will be a lab exercise that organic chemistry students can use to see how what they study in class can be applied in a lab."

Aufort, who is from Eugene, Oreg., will be representing Saint Martin's at the conference, which is one of the premier events for chemistry instructors and students alike.

"I feel a little bit of pressure to be representing the institution but at the same time it's rewarding knowing a professor believes in you and your abilities," Aufort said.

For more information:
Nick Drapela, professor
Chemistry department
360-438-4314 or

Christina Ramírez-Milhoan, communications specialist
Office of Communication
360-438-4541 or