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Christine Spartz: Setting the standard

By Jerred McKee

Most of us can’t say we have worked in a crystal engineering laboratory, let alone co-authored a published scientific paper as an undergraduate. But for Christine Spartz, a sophomore in chemistry at Kansas State University, it’s just a regular day on the job.

Spartz is working under the direction of Christer Aakeröy, university distinguished professor of chemistry, and her research includes searching for patterns in how molecules interact within crystalline structures formed from hydrogen and halogen bonds. Better understanding how these reactions work could lead to improvements in pharmacological and agricultural pesticide development.

Spartz was also awarded a Johnson Cancer Research Award for work she had done on the cancer drug 5-Fluorouracil. The drug cannot be taken as a pill, and Spartz is researching how to change the drug’s physical properties so it can be used as a pill and make it more effective.

“Seeing these results drives me to create more, and to search for the reasons behind the results, so that some day they might have an impact, no matter how small,” Spartz said.

Spartz couldn’t have accomplished so much in such a short time without support from family, friends and K-State. “Besides my parents and family, K-State has been one of the most supportive groups in my life,” she said. “Everyone from my professors to the friends I've made at K-State have encouraged me to work hard and pursue what I love.”

With K-State’s vision of becoming a top 50 public research university, Spartz is setting the standard for other undergraduate students at K-State, and she is ready to accomplish even more. “Ultimately it boils down to the love and support I feel from my K-State family, which empowers me to pursue even those goals which intimidate me.”

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