Drury senior wins national collegiate honor for research

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., May 3, 2018 —Drury senior Brian Lanigan is the recipient of the 2018 New American Colleges and Universities Student Prize for Excellence in Research.

Founded in 1995, the NAC&U is a national consortium of small to mid-size independent colleges and universities that share in Drury’s commitment to provide a balanced education of liberal arts, professional studies, and civic engagement. The NAC&U Student Excellence Awards were first awarded in 2017 to recognize students who make outstanding contributions in these three areas.

As the sole recipient of this year’s prize, the NAC&U recognized Lanigan’s work in the area of scientific research in particular. Lanigan, a chemistry major and philosophy minor from Warrenton, Missouri, has been participating in formal research since his sophomore year. Lanigan’s current and longest-running project involves the development of iminochromone derivatives under assistant professor of chemistry Dr. Madhuri Manpadi.

“Essentially I’m using organic chemistry to make new compounds based off of compounds that are commonly found in drugs that are on the market,” Lanigan says. “We are saying these are typically active biologically and we are figuring out ways to combine them to try and make new compounds that we would suspect would also have biological activity.”

Many of the reactions and compounds Lanigan is using have never been studied before. The hope of the project is that some of the new compounds can be tested against cancer cells in the future.

“Brian is a dedicated and hard-working student,” Manpadi says. “He was successful in getting the scholarship because of his ability to take ownership of the project, keep up-to-date records of his experiments and thoughtfully reflect upon the work in an essay he submitted to NAC&U. He was also involved in training junior students in my lab.”

As part of his award application, Lanigan submitted a compilation of his research, as well as an essay describing his involvement at Drury. A major focus of Lanigan’s essay was the civic engagement he participated in as a member of the Drury Enactus team and the Drury Resident Assistant and Community Assistant staff.

“The opportunities provided by those organizations are what really make my education holistic,” Lanigan says. “I get to make a difference both on campus and off campus.”

Lanigan will travel to the 2018 Summer Institute at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington, to receive the award in June. While there, he will present on his work and will be awarded a $1,000 prize.

This fall, Lanigan will attend the University of Texas at Austin where he has been admitted into a doctoral program in organic chemistry, ad where he has been offered a paid teaching assistant and graduate research assistant position in addition to a $2,000 fellowship for his continued studies.

“Mr. Lanigan’s significant work in undergraduate research stood out as exceptional among the impressive submissions that we received,” said Keith Koster, an NAC&U Faculty Ambassador from Nazareth College who chaired the awards committee. “He also did a wonderful job of reflecting on the diverse experiences he’s had at Drury and how they have helped prepare him for the future. We look forward to recognizing his achievements in June.” 

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