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Falvey Scholars 2023: Zachary Boyer ’23 CLAS

Photo by Andrew McKeough ’19

The Falvey Scholars Program, established in 2002, is an annual program established by Falvey Library to recognize outstanding undergraduate research. It is a collective initiative of the Library and the Center for Research and Fellowships. Award winners are selected from candidates nominated by Villanova faculty and reviewed by Library and University staff.

This year, we honor eight students for seven outstanding projects, which reflect the strength of Villanova’s undergraduate research as well as the support the Library provides through its staff, resources, and spaces.

We are introducing our scholars and covering their research in their own words. Look for additional coverage of Zachary Boyer and the other Falvey Scholars in the fall issue of Mosaic.

Congratulations to all of our Falvey Scholars, past and present!

Zachary Boyer ’23 CLAS

Title: “Synthesis and Evaluation of the Structure Activity Relationships of Antibacterial Functionalized Dihydropyrimidine Derivatives”

Faculty Mentor: Matthew O’Reilly, PhD, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Hometown: Tamaqua, Pa.

Other Honors: Villanova Curvey Scholar, Morgans Scholar, Amcor Scholar, Latoff MS Foundation Scholar, 2022 Barry M. Goldwater Scholar, 2022 Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society Inductee

Describe your research in your own words.
Whether exploring new bond connections, developing new catalysis, or engineering selective synthetic techniques, new chemical transformations with applications in drug/therapeutic development probe my interest.

The evolution of diseases and microbes that cause diseases is as inevitable as a sold-out Villanova men’s basketball game against a Big East rival. Therefore, research toward new therapeutics is essential to ensure a healthier today and tomorrow!

My research explores the underlying chemistry in novel antibiotic development—as antibiotic resistance has become an immense threat to public health in the last decade. My focus is on effectively and efficiently synthesizing these new antibiotics and examining the necessary elements for these molecules to maximize their biological activity against bacterial strains (specifically MRSA, one of the most threatening antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria in the 21st century). I have amazing colleagues that focus on the biology of these compounds—potency, toxicity, mechanism of action, etc. Currently, my efforts are focused toward developing chemistry to enable access to photo affinity probes, which will enable my colleagues to interrogate the mechanism of action of these molecules.

How did Falvey’s resources, databases, and spaces impact your research?
Falvey Library’s resources were indispensable for the project’s success. They enabled access to hundreds of scientific journals in addition to scientific databases (Reaxys and SciFinder), which were essential in the research process, enabling the discovery of the idea for the project.

These resources also helped my colleagues and me to discover any precedent for our project, necessary elements of the project that lacked previous interrogation, and methodology for advancing the project. Lastly, Falvey’s Mendeley resource made for smooth writing—keeping all our references organized and easy to cite.

How did the Library’s staff impact your research and academic experience?
One thing prospective undergraduate students at Villanova will ask me is: “What is it that makes Villanova so great?” My response: the people!

Falvey Library’s staff was incredibly helpful and genial throughout my research/academic experience at Villanova. Whenever a resource was needed or a question arose, staff was eager to come to my aid.

What’s next for you?
I will attend Yale University as a PhD candidate in Organic Chemistry. I will also continue my research career, where I will be developing new synthetic strategies and methods in organic chemistry with applications in drug/therapeutic development. Finally, I will continue my dedication to mentorship and outreach, mentoring undergraduates and introducing children to science, especially children in underprivileged areas of New Haven, Conn.)

Shawn ProctorShawn Proctor, MFA, is Communication and Marketing Program Manager at Falvey Library.



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Last Modified: June 13, 2023

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