Tim Schwartz is a chemistry major from Trabuco Canyon, California. Schwartz was the first author on the paper “Electronic influence of substitution on the pyridine ring within NNN pincer-type molecules,” published in the academic journal Dalton Transactions on January 28, 2020.
A former graduate student in Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry Kayla Green’s lab obtained preliminary data for the project, and Schwartz began helping her with it. When the student graduated in December 2018, Green continued to serve as the project manager, and Schwartz took over the research. After lots of hard work, the team submitted a manuscript of the results to Dalton Transactions. The article was sent to an editor and went through the peer-review process, where other professors and experts read over the paper and validated the points made. Schwartz had to defend his comments and research process when the team received comments from the referees.
“While undergrads are somewhat often co-authors on papers, it is very uncommon for them to be first author. Moreover, to have them publish in a journal of high quality and impact is hard to achieve. Nevertheless, Tim Schwartz has done just that and I’m very proud of him,” said Green.
During his freshman year, Schwartz did well in the required Qualitative Analysis course, which consists of performing many titrations. Because of his success in this class, Green emailed him during his sophomore year and asked him to come in and do similar work in her lab. This was an “undercover interview,” as she used this process to evaluate his laboratory skills. He performed exceedingly well, and was invited to be a part of the Green Research Group. This group currently focuses on applications at the interface of chemistry and biology.
When Schwartz came to TCU, he was originally a computer science major. He then switched to biology, then biochemistry, before finally settling on chemistry. In October of his sophomore year, he began to work under a graduate student in Green’s lab. “That’s when I really fell in love with chemistry. Dr. Green showed me that only a small fraction of the field’s potential is shown in class – working in the lab opened my eyes to everything that is possible. Dr. Green took me under her wing, and taught me so many skills that I wouldn’t get in a normal classroom setting. She helped me with my own research projects, and also helped me learn how to help my colleagues in the lab,” said Schwartz.
As an officer in the chemistry club on campus, Schwartz focused on securing funding for the organization. He ran fundraisers, sold calculators, made flashcards for “Gen Chem” students, and sold lab coats at a reduced price for students. This was all to raise money to purchase chemicals for experiments. He was also in charge of making presentations for SGA to promote awareness across campus. As a senior, Schwartz has played a role in helping the underclassmen transition into taking over leadership in the club.
Schwartz also served as the chair of Sick Science. The group would go to Cook Children’s and put on a show of simple chemistry experiments. It would take place on the first floor, and it would also be filmed and streamed to all TVs in the hospital, in case children were too sick to come watch.
He also volunteered at O. D. Wyatt High School, a local Title I school with 95% of the student population being classified as economically disadvantaged and lower than average proficiency in math and reading. The club’s efforts started with tutoring, and moved into ACT and SAT prep, as well as helping with college applications. “Some students have become Community Scholars and even come to TCU. It’s so cool to see it come full-circle,” Schwartz said.
Schwartz received SERC funds that he used towards Alzheimer’s research. He was aiming to make a drug – produced by the Green Research Group – more potent by combining it with known antioxidant molecules. He described this process as “very difficult,” but he learned a lot. The project was eventually taken over by a postdoctoral student, and Schwartz is proud of the contributions he was able to make.
Schwartz is a Clark Society Scholar, and credits this with allowing him the opportunity to be able to focus on research because he didn’t need to focus on getting a job, thus he was able to produce his recent publication. “Research, writing, and creating graphics takes an excessive amount of time and effort. If I had needed to work, I would’ve had to take more time out of lab and it wouldn’t have been possible to complete the paper,” Schwartz said.
Schwartz looks to Green as a mentor and even a “second mom.” He recalls a time she recorded part of his presentation at UNT and sent it to mom, saying how proud she should be. Schwartz has loved his time at TCU, and said his favorite experience was being a Frog Camp facilitator. It allowed him to grow and make impacts on incoming students. He was able to help build their confidence, share lessons from his mistakes, and be a familiar face for new TCU students.
Schwartz graduates this spring, and is planning to stay for a fifth year to complete graduate work. During this time, he will continue working with Green in the lab. After this, Schwartz wants to go on to earn his doctorate degree and is considering schools on the East Coast. He is gearing his search for a school with the focus for a strong professor to work under, in order to obtain the best possible funding for research and the opportunities for lab space.
In the future, Schwartz hopes to continue work in organometallics, because he really enjoys organic chemistry. He is interested in working with medicinal chemistry to help in a therapeutic way. His thesis project involves working on a new type of macrocycle not previously developed, based on a previous drug.
Outside of the classroom, Schwartz enjoys reading, playing board games, and spending time with friends. He shared three pieces of advice for those coming after him: “First, don’t lose your sense of childhood curiosity, because that’s what gets you through a lot of things. Secondly, find your strengths and stick to those. And finally, be true to yourself – don’t be someone you’re not, because you won’t be very good at it.”