The Norwich Record | Summer 2019
Biology major Dillon Zites of Clarksville, Tennessee, presented his research on improving cancer treatment at the prestigious Posters on the Hill undergraduate student research showcase in Washington, D.C., in April. Hosted by the Council on Undergraduate Research, Posters on the Hill 2019 highlighted 60 top student research projects chosen from around the country.
Zites was the third Norwich undergraduate in five years to be selected for the national research showcase, says Professor Michael McGinnis, dean of the College of Science and Mathematics. At the Capitol, Zites presented his research project, “Light Mediated Cancer Treatment Utilizing Cobalamin Derivatives,” which he conducted under the guidance and mentorship of Assistant Professor of Chemistry Thomas Shell, a groundbreaking researcher in the field of light-activated drugs known as photopharmaceuticals.
The pair continued research into light-sensitive molecules derived from vitamin B12 that can bind to chemotherapy drugs and shield their toxic properties while traveling through the body. When the drug-carrying molecules reach cancerous cells in mice, researchers expose them to light, causing the molecules to split apart and release their drug payloads for more targeted cancer treatment.
Zites’ well-deserved success highlights the many opportunities for students to engage in high-impact undergraduate research at Norwich.
“Through undergraduate research, [students] are transformed into scholars,” Professor Karen L. Hinkle, NU’s associate provost for research and chief research officer, says. “They take the skills of reasoning, critical analysis, creativity, and discovery beyond the undergraduate years to improve not only their lives but society.”