March 25, 2015

SVSU chemistry student accepted for elite Notre Dame research program benefiting poor nations

A Saginaw Valley State University student will conduct chemistry research at one of the leading research institutions in the nation this summer, the University of Notre Dame.

Bailey F. McCarthy Riley will receive a $3,000 stipend as well as full room and board in South Bend, Ind. for Notre Dame’s Analytical Chemistry REU (Research Experiences for Undergraduates) 10-week program that develops low-cost, robust technologies aimed at helping people in poor nations.

“I was very excited when I found out I was offered a spot,” said McCarthy Riley, a chemistry major from West Branch. “I'm excited to conduct research that will work to help other countries grow and develop.”

McCarthy Riley will work on the program's 3-D printed instruments project with Notre Dame faculty during the initiative that spans June to August. She was grateful for a letter of recommendation that helped her clinch the spot, authored by Kyle Cissell, SVSU assistant professor of chemistry.

“This opportunity at Notre Dame is a culmination of Bailey’s excellent work in research,” Cissell said. “This will give her the opportunity to perform research - at one of the leading research institutions in the country - that will be available for people in economically distressed countries and people who would not have access to health care or analytical technology.”

McCarthy Riley has assisted Cissell in developing tests that would detect specific nucleic acids.

“Bailey is very inquisitive by nature,” he said. “She is always up for trying new things.”

The methods and instruments developed as part of the Analytical Chemistry REU are intended to help detect environmental contamination or food adulteration, discover and manage bacterial drug resistance, test pharmaceutical quality, and diagnose human and animal diseases. McCarthy Riley’s experience will include seminars on topics related to global development and analytical chemistry, as well as a series of courses.

At the end of the summer, McCarthy Riley will present her findings at the Analytical Chemistry REU's symposium.

McCarthy Riley plans to graduate SVSU in 2016 and begin studying for a Ph.D. in chemistry.
Eventually, she hopes to merge her passion for chemistry and art by pursuing a career as a conservation scientist who analyzes chemicals in art pieces in an effort to identify its authenticity, origins and chemical makeup. McCarthy Riley had applied for summer positions at a number of museums before she received a notice of acceptance at the Notre Dame program.

“This was an unexpected opportunity,” McCarthy Riley said. “I couldn't pass it up.”