June 18, 2019
According to Jim Fuchs, professor of Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacognosy, research is one of the most valuable things an undergraduate student can do if they have even a slight interest in it.
“Most students don’t know if research is for them or not because they have never had the opportunity to do it,” Fuchs said. “By getting into a lab and experiencing it first-hand, students can determine if it’s something they want to do beyond their undergraduate career.”
Fuchs’ philosophy on undergraduate research is what led Aimee Ho, BSPS Class of 2019 graduate, to nominate him for The Ohio State University Office of Student Academic Success—Undergraduate Research & Creative Inquiry Excellence in Undergraduate Research Mentoring Award. Ho initially emailed and met Fuchs after attending a lecture he gave and seeing his passion for his work. With their shared enthusiasm for synthetic chemistry, Fuchs offered her the opportunity to join his lab.
“At first, Dr. Fuchs had me shadowing one of his senior graduate students in order to become familiar with the equipment and instrumentation and to learn how to set up and run reactions on my own. Gradually, with his encouragement and guidance, I learned to become more independent and seek out journal articles and explore chemical reactions on my own.”
To aid in the learning and mentorship process, Fuchs is an active participant in his students’ academic careers. He checks in on his students’ research progress daily, leaves his office door open and fosters an atmosphere where they can feel empowered to learn and ask questions. For Fuchs, training undergraduate students is a way to continue the legacy of his own mentor who launched him into research.
“When I was an undergraduate student, my advisor gave me a list of names for potential labs – I recognized one of my faculty member’s names, so I reached out. He essentially spring-boarded my research career and I feel like I owe other undergraduate students the same opportunity,” Fuchs said.
Fuchs’ lab designs and prepares novel molecules for therapeutic applications against cancer and infectious diseases such as HIV. Utilizing fundamental chemical knowledge and synthetic methodology, his lab facilitates the process of drug discovery and development through the generation of biological probe molecules, the synthesis of lead compounds and the optimization of drug properties.
Fuchs received the Excellence in Undergraduate Research Mentoring Award in April 2019.
As for Ho, she credits Fuchs with giving her the confidence to apply to the University of North Carolina’s Doctor of Pharmacy program. She was accepted into the program and will begin there in the fall. Upon graduation, Ho also received the Ohio State College of Pharmacy’s Division of Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacognosy Outstanding Student Award.
“Without (Dr. Fuchs’) encouragement, I likely would not have even applied. I am not sure where my future career path will take me, but working in Dr. Fuchs’ lab has definitely made me consider pursuing a PhD as well and perhaps becoming a professor so that I can inspire and guide students just like he has done for me,” Ho said.