Solid-State Organic Chemistry Focus of Research for Chemistry Grad

Alyssa Thornton’s research in a Georgetown University lab may someday impact everything from the medical and pharmaceutical industries to our nation’s defense and food products. 

The soon-to-be Dr. Thornton is working toward her Ph.D. in chemistry at Georgetown University, where she is researching solid-state organic chemistry. Along with Dr. Jennifer Swift, Thornton is studying the relationship of nucleation, growth, and the properties of molecular crystals. 

Every day, Thornton conducts lab experiments that use instrumentation to characterize and compare the properties of crystalline materials like x-ray crystallography. The purpose, she says, is to monitor the modified growth mechanism of the crystals. 

While she worked on her chemistry degree at Seton Hill, Thornton became interested in analytical chemistry and how scientists could combine data from a range of instrumentation to solve problems. Then Thornton worked at Covestro, a German chemicals company, and realized she would need a higher degree to get the kind of position she wanted. 

“With the guidance of Seton Hill’s Dr. Diane Miller, who had already molded me into a stronger scientific writer, I wrote about my scientific interests and goals to earn a position in the Georgetown graduate program,” she says.

Seton Hill’s young alumni are making their mark on the world through their work in science and healthcare, finance and business, industry, entertainment and service to those in need. The Fall/Winter 2019 edition of Seton Hill’s Forward magazine featured 30 of these alumni, all under the age of 30. You can find all of their stories here on Seton Hill’s site (just look for the “30 Under 30” icon).