Alex Kong

Headshot of Alex Kong


Major: I'm a pharmacy student minoring in creative writing.

Describe your work in a few sentences that we can all understand:

I am working in both a medicinal and pharmaceutical chemistry lab to synthesize and test derivatives of vitamin E that could potentially be used to treat neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Niemann-Pick disease.

I am also researching my family’s history and compiling our stories into a creative memoir with an overarching theme of the dilution of traditions from one generation to the next in the example of my Asian-American family.

Q: Who mentors your project?

A: Dr. Jeff Krise has been my mentor for the past three years in pharmaceutical chemistry, while I recently began working in Dr. Thomas Prinsinzano’s lab in medicinal chemistry as part of my main investigations. Dr. Mary Klayder has mentored my creative writing project over the past year.


Q: What surprised you about doing research?

A: I was most surprised about how little I had to know going into each research experience. When I first started working in Dr. Krise’s lab, which has a good mixture of biology and chemistry, I was in the process of taking my first biology course since freshman year of high school. Despite this, I was given wonderful guidance and support in understanding first the experiments and then the concepts that made up my research. The same can be said of Dr. Prisinzano’s lab, where a graduate student has helped me to understand each step of synthesis, and working with Dr. Klayder, who has provided both examples of unique memoirs and opportunities to present my writing.


Q: What do you like most about your research?

A: I love the versatility of my research. It has been an amazing experience working in two different labs for the same project. Rather than outsourcing the synthesis portion of the research, I have had hands-on experiences synthesizing compounds which I can then test in diseased cells for therapeutic purposes. My writing project, on the other hand, has provided a wonderful escape from the sciences and a chance to get to know my family better as well as exercise my creativity.


Q: What advice would you give to a friend wanting to get involved in research?

A: I would tell a friend who wanted to get involved in research to look at all of their options and reach out to professors who investigate topics that strongly interest them. The best way to make a strong impression on a professor is to show that you have looked into their research and have an appreciation for the topic rather than sending out generic emails to several professors at once. By doing this, professors will know and appreciate that you spent a little bit of time getting to know more about them, and you will find a professor whose work meshes with your interests.


Q: How do you spend your time when you’re not working on your research?

A: When I’m not working on my research, I am involved in several different groups, including Mortar Board, the Society of Scientists, and Genuine Imitation A Cappella. Beyond these groups, I enjoy reading, writing, cooking, and watching movies with friends.