Senior Named 2013 Intel Science Talent Search Semifinalist

Posted on: Jan 15, 2013

Sarah Keglovits, Holland Hall senior and a Tulsa Undergraduate Research Challenge (TURC) J. Scholar at the University of Tulsa, is a semifinalist for the 2013 Intel Science Talent Search. This recognition is for her research paper Efficient Synthesis of Glycopeptides in Water, a submission based on her research experience at the Chalker Research Group Lab at the University of Tulsa. Sarah will receive a $1,000 award from the Intel Foundation with an additional $1,000 going to Holland Hall to support the science, math and engineering program. Sarah is the only semifinalist from Oklahoma and 1 of 300 high school seniors nationwide to be named a semifinalist.

“Overall, this experience has shown me both how exciting and how stressful research science can be,” said Keglovits. “I consider this experience to be extremely valuable and helpful in determining my future area of study, and eventually my career. I believe my research experience has left me much better prepared for college-level research than I would have been without it. This research project has also shown me that, whatever specific field I eventually decide to focus on, I will always love scientific exploration.”

On January 23, 40 finalists will be named and invited to Washington, D.C. in March to participate in final judging, display their work to the public, meet with notable scientists and compete for the top award of $100,000.

“Sarah has spent her summers very productively,” said Neil Bergenroth, Holland Hall faculty member. “She has researched and managed to synthesize peptides using water, opposed to organic solvents, and produced a very good yield. She has made an impact on the scientific community and the Holland Hall community.”

The Intel Science Talent Search is the nation’s oldest and most prestigious pre-college science competition. Alumni of STS have made extraordinary contributions to science and hold more than 100 of the world’s most coveted science and math honors, including the Nobel Prize and National Medal of Science.

“Sarah’s research is significant and makes a difference,” said Paige Arnold, Holland Hall faculty member. “In archaic terms, it is the same as farmers and construction workers now having their own welding equipment to fix their equipment themselves and much more quickly, no longer having to go to a blacksmith and wait as in olden days. So synthesizing in water, bio chemists can now use this method in order to expedite their own work.”

This past fall, Keglovits was also named a semifinalist for the 2012 Siemens Competition. Her achievement was highlighted in the October issue of USA Today. Sarah was the only semifinalist from Oklahoma.

“Sarah is a bright student and we are proud of her accomplishments,” said Richard Hart, Holland Hall Interim Headmaster. “We’re excited to see what she will do next.”

Summary: Efficient Synthesis of Glycopeptides in Water
Peptides and proteins that bear carbohydrate modifications are at the forefront of important research in antibiotic development, neuron formation, and epigenetics. One of the main obstacles in current research on these peptides and proteins is a lack of an efficient, operationally simple method for their synthesis. Current procedures used to make these peptides and proteins suffer from low yields and are highly work-intensive. The goal of this project is to design a means of making these carbohydrate-modified peptides and proteins that is simpler and more efficient than current protocols.

An important aspect of the synthetic method developed in this project was its compatibility with water. Fortunately, the results obtained in this research indicate that these peptides are compatible. This results in high yields of the desired product in contrast to current synthetic strategy. This new protocol is also easier to carry out than more traditional methods, which is important because it allows scientists ready access to the compounds required for biological evaluation.