Joseph Capani, Jr., a senior Chemistry concentrator, has been awarded the 2018 Outstanding Student Award from the RI American Chemical Society. This award is given annually to one student from each institution of higher education in the State of RI. At Brown, the awardee is nominated by Chemistry Department faculty. Joe is completing his research in the laboratory of Professor Matthew Zimmt.
Joe's research project is entitled “Two-Dimensional Polymerization of Self-Assembled Monolayers”. Self-assembly is a process observed in nature by which molecules spontaneously arrange themselves into complex structures. Certain molecules are capable of self-assembling into single-molecule thick monolayers on surfaces.
"The Zimmt group intends to harness the potential of self-assembled monolayers as two-dimensional reactive templates to build three-dimensional functional scaffolds on surfaces," says Joe, "we are interested in improving the robustness of monolayers so that we may perform functionalization reactions on the surface without off target reactions occurring in solution. To that end, my project focuses on a new surface polymerization approach that may afford extensive crosslinking and monolayer stability."
Joe joined the Zimmt Lab during his sophomore year. His was inspired to work on this project as it combines several aspects of chemistry: organic synthesis, surface chemistry, and the study of intermolecular interactions as they relate to structure and function. Joe always knew he was interested in science. He spent many summers involved in science programs at the Kopernik Observatory learning about astronomy, physics, and geology. By high school, he homed in on chemistry as this major field of interest. After completing introductory and advanced courses in organic chemistry at Brown, he saw the potential of organic synthesis in addressing a vast array of problems and challenges faced by society.
After completing his degree at Brown University, Joe will work as a summer intern at Vertex Pharmaceuticals in the medicinal chemistry department. In the fall, he will enroll in the Chemistry Ph.D.Program at University of California, Irvine. He plans to focus on natural products synthesis or chemical biology, planning to pursue a career in the biotechnology or pharmaceutical industry.