Alejandra Coronel-Zegarra ’22 is conducting chemistry research this summer that has potential applications in photodynamic therapy and fuel-cell production. (Photo courtesy of Alejandra Coronel-Zegarra)

Knowledge Activated

Ohio Wesleyan Student’s Research Explores Inorganic, Organometallic Chemistry

By Cole Hatcher

Alejandra Coronel-Zegarra ’22

Name: Alejandra Coronel-Zegarra ’22
Hometown: Hollywood, Florida
Majors: Biochemistry, Management Economics
OWU Connection Experience: Ohio Wesleyan’s Summer Science Research Program (SSRP)

Coronel-Zegarra is spending 10 weeks completing an “Investigation of Dipyrrin Ligands for the Activation of Oxygen” under the mentorship of Allen Pistner, Ph.D., assistant professor of Chemistry.

Her work involves researching faster and more effective ways to create photosensitizers, or molecules that produce chemical changes in other molecules. To do this, she is using dipyrrin ligands, or small molecules that help to transmit signals. She is using the ligands as “protecting groups to eventually activate the oxygen group,” she says.

What I Am Researching

“I hope to learn more about inorganic and organometallic chemistry concepts,” Coronel-Zegarra says, “like oxygen activation through free-ligand protection and the applications of such knowledge to photodynamic therapy and fuel-cell production.”

How It Relates to Classroom Learning

“As a Biochemistry major, I am required to take courses with lab sections. This research experience has made me much more confident in the lab and working with various instruments and chemicals.

“It has also opened up new areas or subfields of research in chemistry that I did not know of before. In other words, it has expanded my knowledge in research areas related to biochemistry.”

Why I Chose Ohio Wesleyan

“I chose to attend OWU to play collegiate tennis and because of their exceptional chemistry and economics departments.”

My Plans After Graduation

“My plans for after graduation include going to grad school for pharmaceutical sciences and then being a researcher at a pharmaceutical lab in the U.S. or Europe.”