Renuka Tammisetti Wins Thesis Competition at Highlands University
New Mexico Highlands University chemistry graduate Renuka Tammisetti won the university’s 2010 — 2011 thesis award competition with her thesis, “Crystal Growth and X-Ray Diffraction Studies of Organic Polymorphs for Pharmaceutical Applications.”
In chemistry, polymorphs are solid substances that have more than one phase, with different molecular structures for each phase. In her study, Tammisetti used the university’s state-of-the-art X-ray diffractometer to determine the atomic structure of crystallized pharmaceutical polymorphs.
On Aug. 15, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs Linda LaGrange presented Tammisetti with her award and a check for $500.
LaGrange and two qualified readers reviewed the theses submitted for consideration in the thesis competition.
Tammisetti, 30, is from the metropolitan city of Hyderabad in southern India. She earned her bachelor’s degree in pharmacy from Osmania University in her hometown with a GPA of 3.8.
After graduating from Osmania University, Tammisetti worked in India as a project trainee in quality control for developed drugs at Arsvil Research Laboratories. Later, she did medical transcription and data processing for Trans Dyne IT Services in India.
Tammisetti earned her master’s degree in applied chemistry at Highlands with a GPA of 3.65.
“My thesis study mainly emphasized growing different polymorphs of pharmaceutical compounds,” Tammisetti said. “I isolated different crystallized polymorphs and analyzed them using the X-ray diffractometer, which gives highly precise results about the position of the atoms in the molecules.
“I was trying to determine the stability of a variety of polymorphs because this is very important in drug design and development,” Tammisetti said.
At Highlands, Tammisetti was a research assistant for the Chemistry Department in the X-Ray Diffraction Laboratory. She was also a graduate teaching assistant in chemistry labs for undergraduate students.
Visiting chemistry professor Mikhail Antipin was Tammisetti’s adviser and also chaired her thesis committee.
“Renuka is a very good chemist and is highly skilled in X-ray diffraction analysis of molecular structures,” Antipin said. “Her research and academic ability are at a very high level.”
Tammisetti said: “The chemistry faculty at Highlands is always motiving and encouraging you to achieve your goals. They are all Ph.D. level chemists and have so much research expertise.”
Since middle school, Tammisetti said she dreamed of coming to the United States for her higher education because of the research opportunities and better funding for science.
Two friends from India attended graduate school at Highlands and urged Tammisetti to apply. She said the affordable tuition made it financially possible.
“As an international student, I was always accepted by my fellow students at Highlands, and the International Education Center was a tremendous help to me,” Tammisetti said.
Looking ahead, Tammisetti plans to become a pharmacist first and then pursue a Ph.D. in chemistry.
“My husband, T.S Rao, is in India. He has always encouraged me to pursue my higher education. He and our son, Charan, will join me in the U.S. when I become a pharmacist,” Tammisetti said.