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Tsavalas Group - MAY 2024_edited.jpg

Tom Diphilippo

Thesis title: 


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Tom Diphilippo (yes, 2 p's, not 2 l's, and no e's) grew up in XYZ, New Hampshire and at the age of 3 years old he had built his first crib-top NMR. By 4 years old he had determined the level of PFAS in his waterbottle was too high, and with more significant figures than had yet to be reported in the peer-reviewed open literature. Tom's peers had no clue what he was talking about, so Tom had to wait until he was old enough for his AP credits to be awarded and he joined UNH in pursuit of validating the science he already knew with a BS Chemistry degree. In 2022, he joined the Tsavalas research group for his senior thesis and he supervised Prof. Tsavalas and the graduate students on some fascinating work that even the most advanced AI units are struggling to fully comprehend. Tom prefers "X" over "Twitter", yet uses neither.

Tom's research in the Tsavalas group has been focused on developing a method to quantify the surface coverage and hydroxyl concentration expressed on the surface of polymer colloids (as a result of emulsion co-polymerization with a hydroxy-functional monomer such as 2-hydroxypropyl methacrylate). Originally this was a project started by a prior undergraduate where a fluorescing tag molecule was designed to be coupled with surface hydroxyl groups (after first converting them into a ketone), whose emission would shift once conjugated. By the ratio of shifted absorbance to unshifted absorbance, the quantification of surface functional hydroxyl could be determined. While Tom was initially excited by this approach, his parents really wanted him to use his NMR again (or else to clean his room!) so he developped (yes, 2 p's) a dipherent tag to react with those surface ketones which would present peaks easily differentiated on NMR spectra for straightforward integration and quantification of (former surface) hydroxyl content. A further advantage of this technique is that it uses considerably cheaper and more easily accessible reagents and instrumentation that most chemistry labs would have. 

Tom just graduated (May 2024) with his BS in Chemistry at UNH and has elected to continue here in the same department (apparently NH has periodic boundary conditions at its borders so Tom can't leave) to pursue his PhD in Chemistry under Prof. Brittany White-Mathiue (starting Fall 2024). We will miss Tom, but he literally (and yes, I CAN use that term here) will only be a shoe's throw away down the hall. We look forward to seeing if Tom can complete his PhD in one semester; gauntlet thrown. In all seriousness, we are very proud of Tom.

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Project 1: Quantification of Hydroxy content on the Surface of Polymer Nanoparticles

A novel method was developed for quantifying hydroxy groups on the surface of polymer nanoparticles. The challenge lay in differentiating surface-region hydroxy groups from those buried within the particle matrix or present in the serum phase. To address this, centrifugation was employed to separate the particles from the serum phase, followed by an aqueous oxidation using silver (II) picolinate to selectively convert surface hydroxy groups into ketones without disrupting particle structure. Initial attempts to quantify these ketones using Wittig chemistry coupled with fluorescence spectroscopy yielded sub-optimal results. Subsequently, a quantitative NMR approach was envisioned, wherein trimethylsilyl tags were introduced to remaining hydroxy groups post-oxidation. This approach has shown promising results, allowing for quantification of hydroxy content in the three regions of interest using readily available reagents with minimal sample preparation.

coming soon

Project 2: blah blah blah - Coming Soon

This space will be used to describe Tom's second project.


I'm always looking for new and exciting opportunities. Let's connect.

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