Elements of Success

Chemistry major Paul Ghattas’ 12 wasn’t sure where his love of the field would take him. Now, after an internship at Capital Health System, he’s headed to medical school at Penn State.
Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Growing up in Brooklyn, N.Y., Paul Ghattas ’12 always had a knack for chemistry. He knew he wanted to study it in college, along with minors in Mathematics and Biology.

“Coming to Rider I knew I wanted to major in Chemistry, because I was always good at it and actually like it,” he said. “But, four years ago, I wasn’t sure where that was going to take me. I went back and forth between medicine, pharmacy and a graduate degree in chemistry, and it wasn’t until I did internships at the Capital Health System in Trenton that I decided I was definitely going to apply to medical school.”

Ghattas’ focus paid off. After spending considerable time last summer preparing for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) and applying to different universities, the graduating senior will head to The Milton S. Hershey School of Medicine at Pennsylvania State University in the fall.

“In early February, right around my birthday, I got the best birthday gift – that acceptance letter,” he said.

Ghattas has done research all four of his years at Rider with Dr. Danielle Jacobs, assistant professor of Chemistry, Biochemistry and Physics, in addition to presenting his findings at national conferences in Maryland and San Diego.

The most current project, titled An Environmentally Friendly Synthesis of N-(2-(pyridin-2-yl)ethyl)sulfonamides as Anti-HIV Drug Candidates, was used as his honors thesis for the Chemistry department and Baccalaureate Honors Program (BHP) Capstone. It focused on synthesizing new drug candidates that have potential antibiotic or anti-HIV properties and developing a novel methodology that is environmentally friendly and economically efficient.

“Presenting at these conferences is exciting and fun, it is a reason to travel across the country to share my research with other like-minded Chemistry majors, as well as getting feedback on ways to improve my research,” Ghattas said. “They are also great places to network with other chemists.”

He also did research at Penn State last summer as part of the National Science Foundation and 3M Company Research Experience for Undergraduates. His project was titled Synthesis of a Photocleavable Compound for Pattern Formation in Micropumps dealing with “the synthesis of an organic compound with the light induced charge reversal property, which has great application for use in nanomotors and micro fluidic pumps.”

Ghattas is involved in a number of honors societies, including Beta Beta Beta for Biology, Omnicron Delta Kappa for Leadership, Alpha Lamda Delta for Freshmen, the Liberal Arts and Sciences Society, and Gamma Sigma Epsilon for Chemistry, where he served as president and treasurer.

He has also received a number of awards during his time at Rider, including the Outstanding Student Award for The New Jersey Institute of Chemists; the Top Chemistry Junior at Rider University, presented by The American Chemical Society, Trenton Section; the Tifano-Griffenberg Award, given to the top pre-med junior; and the Wyeth-Ayerst Award. Ghattas has also been an active member of BHP and a Ronald E. McNair Scholar.

Most recently, Ghattas was the recipient of the Dr. John Taylor Ealy Award, given to the top pre-med senior, at Rider’s annual Student Awards Banquet on April 28.

“To accomplish so much in so little time at Rider, I had to sacrifice some things, and I had to prioritize others in order to balance my schoolwork and extracurricular activities,” Ghattas said. 

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Chemistry major Paul Ghattas’ 12 will attend medical school at Penn State in the fall.