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Dominique Spiegowski ’18 Dives Into Chemistry Research


When Dominique Spiegowski ’18 got the opportunity to do hands-on chemistry research, she made the most of it.

Dominique Spiegowski ’18 at work in the Ngai Lab.

Last summer, she commuted nearly 2 hours each way from Ridgewood, Queens, just so that she could put in the hours necessary to advance her project:  optimizing the synthesis of hydroxyl amines for use in photoredox reactions to yield various perfluoroalkoxylated heteroarenes. When Dominique learned that she had been accepted to the 2017 URECA summer program and would be able to devote herself to research full-time, she was thrilled.

A biology major with a minor in chemistry, Dominique first contacted Prof. Ming-Yu Ngai about joining his research group in spring of 2016 while she was taking Organic Chemistry, a class that truly captivated her interest. She landed the position even though she had no previous experience in research.

“He took a chance on me,” she said. Upon joining the Ngai lab, Dominique began to work alongside graduate student Johnny Lee, learning various analytical techniques she needed (including TLC, NMR, GCMS) to contribute to the project. Recently, Dominique was named a co-author on a manuscript published in Chemical Science (June 2017) titled: “Selective C-O Bond Formation via Photocatalytica Radical Coupling Strategy: Access to Perfluoroalkoxylated Arenes and Heteroarenes.” 

In her spare time, Dominique is a live in EMT- working night shifts three days a week for the Port Jefferson Volunteer Ambulance Corps. With both her research, and her work as an EMT.

“You have to think on your feet,” she said. “You have to be alert. I like the fact that after taking all this time to study how things work – that now I’m actually getting my hands in it. ”

She has also served as a teaching assistant for the AMS and Chemistry Departments; and has collaborated with the SB Chemistry Department to create tutorials through the S-BOLD Learning Initiative. Dominique is fluent in Polish and enjoys playing volleyball. Dominique plans to go to medical school, after taking a gap year to work as a paramedic.

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