Franklin & Marshall College Franklin & Marshall College

Making Music in the Lab

  • Yoder and Griffith

Bassoon enthusiast Allison Griffith came to F&M with the intent of majoring in Music. But she soon found herself conducting research with a professor and co-authoring a paper with him: “Hypercoordination in Triphenyl Oxinates of the Group 14 Elements,” published in the Journal of Organometallic Chemistry.

Griffith was a lab assistant to Claude Yoder, the Charles A. Dana professor of Chemistry, when Yoder asked her if she would be interested in joining him in
researching “hypercoordination,” which, in lay terms, means the extent to which a particular atom can add electron density. It is an aspect of atoms that is not well understood, Yoder says, yet the topic is an important one in the field of chemistry and could have applications in industry, as well, particularly in the field of semiconductors. Yoder, who has co-authored papers with other undergraduates,
places great value on undergraduate research opportunities. The 1962 graduate of F&M had a similar opportunity when he studied here.

Griffith says she never expected to enjoy research this much when she came to F&M. After earning a degree in Chemistry from F&M—she minored in Music—she is now pursuing a Ph.D. at Columbia, with an eye on a career in either academics or industry.

“Allison's work in the lab reminds me of her bassoon playing—they both have great tone,” Yoder says. "She'll be a heck of a chemist."