Matthew Forget in Dr. Murphy’s Lab.
Now in his third year at Seton Hall, Matthew Forget’s ambition, aptitude for leadership, and passion for both science and the humanities have allowed him to thrive at Seton Hall and beyond. His work in the chemistry department and his role as a co-founder of the Biomedical Humanities club are two of the many ways in which Matthew has proven himself to be a valuable member of the Seton Hall community.
Matthew entered Seton Hall his freshman year with a drive to succeed. Chemistry majors are typically invited by their professors to begin research after completing their first chemistry course, but he took the initiative to build a network with other students and the faculty, which enabled him to begin working in the research group of Fr. Gerry Buonopane in September of his freshman year.
With Fr. Buonopane’s lab group, Matthew performed distillations to extract essential oils from basil leaves, a laboratory technique most students are not introduced to until they take organic chemistry in their sophomore year. This gave him an advantage in his future coursework and allowed him to advise and lead other students who had less experience, helping them to succeed as well.
The work in Fr. Buonopane’s lab gave Matthew a strong foundation in lab skills, and when he finished his first semester, he decided to work under Dr. Murphy, who taught freshman chemistry and became a mentor to Matthew.
Within Dr. Murphy’s group, Matthew and other students were given freedom over their work, and they developed their own research projects. Matthew now helps lead a group of students studying photodynamic therapy, a class of cancer treatments. This group is developing a novel compound which will react with light to attack cancerous cells and other viruses.
The opportunity to design his own experiment and be trained by a graduate student in lab work has been an exciting learning experience for Matthew. “Dr. Murphy’s lab is very supportive and gave me a lot of opportunities for growth,” Matthew explains. This environment allowed Matthew to flourish, and he and his group members are now preparing to publish their work.
In March, Seton Hall’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry sent Matthew and five other undergraduate students to San Diego, where they presented their work at the American Chemical Society National Conference. This conference brought together students, scientists, and scientific technology companies from across the country to present their research.
Forget & Fellow Students at the ACS Conference.
The trip was a valuable learning opportunity for the students, as it was their first time attending a national conference and presenting their work to other scientists. Matthew is grateful for this learning experience as “the conference provided me with an opportunity to meet chemists from all over the country, discuss our work, and see a lot of new instruments and products.” While this trip was the culmination of three years of diligent work in the research lab, it has not been Matthew’s only impact on the Seton Hall campus.
Aside from his chemistry research, Seton Hall has allowed Matthew to pursue a passion for philosophy and ethics. He cofounded a bioethics club on campus, known as the Biomedical Humanities Club, or HuMed, and currently serves as their treasurer. “I wanted to engage in deeper ethical and moral questions, something I feel Seton Hall encourages,” Matthew says, explaining his involvement with the group. The group focuses on patient rights and advocacy, and meetings often feature guest speakers and service activities. HuMed has a partnership with the Josie King foundation, a nonprofit organization with a focus on patient safety. They also regularly host art therapy events and deliver homemade cards and other items to patients.
In addition to his chemistry work and involvement in the humanities, the emphasis placed on a holistic education by Seton Hall and the Buccino Leadership Institute is a great contributor to Matthew’s success in the lab and beyond. He recognizes the impact this has had on him, saying, “the Leadership Institute helped me develop my social and emotional intelligence. I believe this gives me an edge over other students who have only focused on developing their scientific and technical skills.”
This has proven true for Matthew, who will be graduating at the end of his third year at Seton Hall and continuing his education at Columbia University, where he will pursue a master’s degree in Chemical Engineering. Armed with the skills he has developed in the Buccino Leadership Institute and his technical training in chemistry, we know he will continue to make Seton Hall proud!