Drew University Senior Gets Research Aid Through Competition

BioSolveIT Scientific Challenge provides tech software to undergrad researchers

October 2020 – Drew University senior Benjamin Strickland C’21 gained access to impactful research technology and software through a national competition.

The BioSolveIT Scientific Challenge, an annual contest for students conducting drug discovery research, provides select students with software to aid their research.

“With the pandemic’s impact on in-person education, the usefulness of computational chemistry as a tool has been thoroughly emphasized and has aided in the continuation of my research,” said Strickland, who plans to pursue a PhD in biochemistry after graduating.

Strickland has worked closely with Dr. Vincent Gullo, director of Drew’s RISE Institute, which pairs retired industry leaders with undergraduate students in the research lab.

Their research project, In Silico Discovery of Novel Antibacterials Targeting FtsZ, has Strickland using computational resources to design novel treatments for the pressing (and timely) global health issue of resistant bacterial strains like MRSA.

“I’ve had an incredibly fulfilling learning experience with Dr. Gullo each and every year since I started doing research with him in my first year at Drew,” said Strickland.

“His willingness and enthusiasm to let me explore and take my own direction with the project has been amazing.”

The access to advanced chemistry software will only help the project, particularly with restrictions on lab time.

“Computational chemistry techniques are instrumental to my research, so the tools provided by BioSolveIT are extremely useful,” said Strickland.

“These resources allow me to predict the most potent and promising compounds to synthesize before I ever get into the lab, which allows me to maximize my time once I’m there.”

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