Mary Garner

Mary Garner
Mentor: Dr. Adam Veige
College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
 "I have always had an innate curiosity for science; I love reading about science, posing new questions and coming up with ideas of why things work. Fortunately, I was provided the opportunity to join Dr. Adam Veige’s inorganic chemistry group at UF. But starting out, I knew very little about synthetic chemistry and entered his lab skeptical as to whether this type of research was even for me. However, it did not take long to realize my passion for the subject and my desire to continue in this area. I am now interested in how the fundamental principles of coordination chemistry and rational ligand design can be applied to assemble novel biomimetic and bio-inspired complexes that model trends in structure, reactivity, and mechanism of endogenous metallo-species. I would like to obtain a PhD in chemistry to later conduct research in synthetic bioinorganic and organometallic chemistry as the principal investigator of my own research group. I hope that my participation in the University Scholars Program will help me develop as independent scientist and sharpen my skills as a synthetic chemist."





Research Interests

  • Organometallic Synthesis
  • Bioinorganic Chemistry
  • Bio-inspired Catalysis

Academic Awards

  • Charles Vincent and Heidi Cole McLaughlin Scholarship
  • Anderson Scholar with High Distinction
  • HHMI Science for Life Undergraduate Research Award
    Herbert A. Laitinen Award


  • Phi Beta Kappa Academic Honor Society
  • Golden Key Honor Society
    Student Affiliates of the American Chemical Society (UF Chemistry Club)


  • Chemistry Day at the Mall Volunteer
  • Chem-a-thon Volunteer
  • Relay for Life

Hobbies and Interests

  • Cycling
  • Baking and Cooking
  • Board Games
  • Scrapbooking

Research Description

Design and Synthesis of Gold-N-Heterocyclic Carbene Complexes for Aptamer Conjugation
Current anti-cancer metallo-drugs display high instability and lack the appropriate selectivity to be deemed therapeutically valuable. As a result, patients often succumb to an array of detrimental toxicity issues brought on by heavy metal accumulation in the body, leaving the true benefit of these potential drug candidates in question. We seek to solve this problem by developing a class of highly potent and selective gold-N-heterocyclic carbene (Au-NHC) aptamer conjugates. Through the rational design and synthesis of functionalized NHC ligands we hope to attain suitable gold complexes for aptamer conjugation and targeted chemotherapy. We will evaluate the efficacy of our novel Au-NHC aptamer conjugates in the following ways: determining the IC50 value against both leukemia and healthy cell lines, comparing the cytotoxicity of our drug-aptamer conjugates to our unconjugated Au-NHC drug, and measuring the percent drug internalization. From these data we expect to find our Au-NHC drug design superior to existing metallo-drugs.