Donaldson is part of Biochemistry and Chemistry Professor Dr. Steve Westcott’s student research team the “WiLd ToAdS”. Westcott recently received new funding through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada’s Discovery Grant program. The team will be investigating properties of new compounds containing boron and phosphorus.
Donaldson has been working to build new compounds for this testing.
“Working in the lab has been a great experience, it adds so much to your studies,” he says. “When this project came up, I jumped at the chance to be part of it. The opportunity to do this kind of work, building new compounds for a new project is exciting.”
Donaldson and his student colleagues, along with Westcott, are looking at alpha-beta unsaturated imine compounds and the chemistry behind how to make them. These compounds are highly conjugated, resulting in bright yellow and orange colouring of final products. Double bonds near the nitrogen atom are possible targets for 1,4-addition of boron and phosphorous compounds. “It’s like Steve (Westcott) has been telling us,” Donaldson added “We can research as much as possible and make predictions, but the real excitement hits when something unexpected happens.”
“I’ve learned so much from this experience, it really teaches you to work independently,” says Donaldson. “Although I was not capable of participating in Westcott’s Saturday morning research over the last year, it was very easy to become part of the lab family.”
Outside his research, Donaldson spent his second year as a Residence Assistant in Campbell Hall and is also involved in the Mount Allison SMILE program. “It is a very important program to me, and I have found that everyone who participates thoroughly enjoys the experience,” he states. “I think it is so incredibly meaningful to be a part of something that helps families in the area!” Donaldson will be one of three program coordinators for the SMILE program in the 2016/2017 academic year.
Donaldson, who is from East Hants, NS is returning home for the rest of the summer where he will work full-time as a Beach Captain with the Nova Scotia Lifeguard Service. He will continue his studies and research work in the fall with plans to pursue an honours degree Chemistry. Looking ahead, Donaldson will be exploring the possibility of a career in research following his Mount Allison degree.