This year, Shannon Dugan received the prestigious Novartis Science
Scholarship for the second time. The competitive scholarship, awarded
based on school performance and accomplishments in scientific research,
is provided by the Independent College Fund of New Jersey (ICFNJ).
Dugan's research deals with fluorinated metal phthalocyanines – a topic
she hopes will one day carry over into the Medical field and eventually
contribute to photodynamic therapy helping patients with cancer. In
addition, applications into cleaning the environment are envisioned.
Dugan began her journey going into her junior year at Seton Hall.
She joined Dr. Sergiu M. Gorun's group in the Chemistry Department,
teaming with his senior graduate students Hemantbhai Patel and Andrei
Loas. The group's atmosphere helped foster Dugan's passion for her
research as she engaged fully into the project. "[Patel and Loas]
taught me everything I needed to know to start up my research – they
also taught me everything I needed to know about their lab," Dugan said.
But the process did take time. "I had to know how to construct the
building blocks for the target molecules before Dr. Gorun really
immersed me into my project," she explained. Dugan began by learning
the ropes of a Seton Hall research lab, starting off learning how to
make a precursor that would create all of the project's products. By
the end of her first summer, however, Dugan had already picked up her
own research project with fluorinated main group metal phthalocyanines.
Working with Seton Hall's Chemistry Department has reflected the
caring community that the University strives for. "The chemistry
program at Seton Hall has brought me so many amazing opportunities,"
Dugan said. Both in and out of the lab, Dugan has had the chance to
bring her research to life in big ways.
Last April, along with other student friends, she attended a
national conference in New Orleans to present her research. "It was an
amazing experience," Dugan said. "We presented our research at the
American Chemical Society's national meeting." There, graduate and
undergraduate level students, as well as professors and industry
leaders, listened to Dugan and her friends from another Seton Hall
research lab present their results and findings. "[Being] a national
meeting, the experience taught me how to present my research at a
professional level – that was such a good feeling" she said.
Given her progress, Prof. Gorun has entrusted Dugan to mentor
Jessica Thomulka, a freshman. She is now passing on the knowledge that
she gained from her lab mates and her advisor. With her own freshman
undergraduate mentee in the lab, Dugan is excited to share in a new
research journey. Speaking very highly of her mentee, Dugan explains
that "it was the best feeling to teach someone something new; she is so
smart and picked everything up so quickly – the perfect student!"
However, helping future researchers is not holding Dugan back from
charging full steam ahead with her own research. Dugan is now the
coauthor of a patent application, to be filed by the United States Army.
The biomedical applications of Dugan's research fuel her passion as
she looks to enter Medical School in the future. But her time with
Seton Hall’s program in the Chemistry Department won’t be forgotten. "I
never thought I would be in the place where I am today with my
research. I never imagined doing research in such an amazing lab with
such amazing people," Dugan explains. She emphasizes the true community
of the lab – with everyone not only conducting their own research
projects, but also helping each other with any bumps along the way.
As for the scholarship, "I was honestly just as shocked to receive
the Novartis Science Scholarship the second time around as I was the
first." As she paves the way for tomorrow’s medical practices, Dugan is
nothing but humble; "I am so grateful for everything that Dr. Gorun,
Dr. Murphy (the Department undergraduate student adviser), all of our
graduate students as well as the undergraduates, friends and family have
done for me. Also, I would not have been able to accomplish so much
without the funding that we have received from The National Science
Foundation, United States Army, as well as The Novartis Science
For more information please contact:
Nicholas Snow Ph.D.