Earlier this year Macy Hudson, undergraduate student in the Department of Chemistry, co-authored a publication with a team of University of Tennessee, Knoxville faculty, researchers, and students. The paper “Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) Activated Liposomal Cell Delivery Using a Boronate-Caged Guanidine Lipid” was published in Chemistry: A European Journal in late May.
Hudson, a senior, began her time at the university with a plan; she wanted to study organic chemistry, get some experience in a lab, then continue to graduate school. Despite challenges presented by the onset of COVID-19 in early 2020, which sent students home for virtual learning and paused work in labs across campus, she continued to pursue these goals.
“During my sophomore year I really started looking at how to get involved in undergraduate research,” said Hudson. “I asked around the department and was advised to look at what our individual faculty members are researching, reach out to them directly and see if they had any projects that suited my area of study.”
This active pursuit of her research interests eventually led Hudson to the research group of Michael Best, professor of chemistry. Best’s group works with the design and creation of organic molecules for uses relevant to biological systems. The publication Hudson co-authored describes the results of one such project with applications in the pharmaceutical industry.
“The goal of this project was to create a lipid and then use a disease-associated trigger to cleave off the head group of the lipid. When that happens, it creates a positive charge, and if we can create enough positive charge, nanocarriers called liposomes composed of this lipid can be absorbed into cells. This method can be used for drug delivery by putting drug molecules inside the liposome which the cell then absorbs,” said Hudson. Her work on the project was very hands-on, synthesizing and testing the lipid repeatedly, the results of which were included in the publication.
Hudson plans to continue working in organic chemistry, and specifically in drug design and delivery, by pursuing a PhD after graduation. She hopes to eventually work in development in the pharmaceutical industry. Hudson credits her time in the Department of Chemistry with preparing her to pursue these goals.
“I’ve had a really great experience. Getting involved beyond research and classes has really helped. I joined our undergraduate chemistry club and worked as an undergraduate teaching assistant, which allowed me to build relationships with faculty members and teach the material that I love,” said Hudson.