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Northwest students Autumn Bailey and Clayton True presented their research about growing and increasing the medicinal value of spinach at the American Chemical Society National Meeting in Orlando, Florida. (Submitted photo)

Northwest students Autumn Bailey and Clayton True presented their research about growing and increasing the medicinal value of spinach at the American Chemical Society National Meeting in Orlando, Florida. (Submitted photo)

April 24, 2019

Medicinal chemistry students present at national conference


Northwest Missouri State University students Autumn Bailey and Clayton True presented their research at the American Chemical Society National Meeting, April 2 in Orlando, Florida. They were the first students from Northwest to attend and present research at the national meeting, which drew more than 15,000 attendees.

The pair presented their research about how to increase a yield of spinach plants by growing them in unfavorable weather conditions and increasing the medicinal value of spinach as a way of preventing viral infections, heart diseases and other major ailments.

“This was an amazing experience for me because I was able to network with many chemists as well as broaden my knowledge of chemistry,” Autumn Bailey, a senior medicinal chemistry major from Greentop, Missouri, said. “The American Chemical Society requires students to have hands-on experience and practice within the real world.”

Clayton True, a junior medicinal chemistry major from Kansas City, Missouri, added, “It felt astounding being at the forefront of scientific knowledge and advances in chemistry. It was both humbling and inspiring being surrounded by some of the most ingenious minds in the world who gathered to present their state-of-the-art research and findings.”

During their research, Bailey and True looked for a plant hormone that is responsible for the growth regulation of the spinach plant. They determined the quantity of the natural plant hormone in selenium-enriched spinach after applying different concentrations of selenium. Then, they studied the influence of photoperiod and temperature on the hormone content of spinach treated with selenium and compared it to spinach without selenium treatment.

Their research showed selenium has a positive effect on spinach growth, gibberellic acid accumulation and overall crop yield. They found selenium-enriched spinach could have medicinal value, enhanced nutritional characteristics and enhanced flower induction.

“Bailey and True not only have learned how science works in a science profession-based environment, but they know they are helping develop a body of important scientific work,” Dr. Ahmed Malkawi, a professor of organic chemistry and the students’ research advisor, said. “At the same time, these students did science that matters and science that will hopefully help the food industry significantly.”

Bailey says her favorite part of the national conference was being involved in research that was meaningful and learning from other presentations.

“When professionals listened to my presentation I had a feeling I was sharing something important,” Bailey said. “Not only sharing my own research but listening and learning from others who presented really made the experience worthwhile.”

True says he enjoyed the feeling of accomplishment while presenting important research alongside chemistry experts.

“Representing Northwest with high-end research and having beneficial interaction with leaders in the field of organic chemistry was an important opportunity for my professional development,” True said.

Malkawi says the national conference provided Bailey and True with an opportunity to grow as researchers and public speakers, as well as learn from other researchers and boost Northwest’s stature as a leader in profession-based learning.

“Bailey and True are success-driven and knowledge-seeking students who are exemplars of what it means to work hard,” Malkawi said. “They not only know what they should know as student researchers, but I also saw in them the level of strategic thinking and problem solving that the best students achieve.”


For more information, please contact:

Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
mhorn@nwmissouri.edu | 660.562.1704 | Fax: 660.562.1900

Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468