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Smithfield resident to graduate URI with a bang

Media Contact: Todd McLeish, 401-874-7892

Top chemistry student studied explosives on way to degree

KINGSTON, R.I. -- May 13, 2005 -- Smithfield resident Justin Luongo will graduate from the University of Rhode Island on May 22 as the top chemistry student in his class. The 21-year-old chose to study chemistry as an alternative to his other primary interest - music. “It was something completely different to learn and it satisfied my interest in forensic science as well,” he said.

While studying chemistry, Luongo became involved in URI’s Forensic Science Partnership and developed an interest in explosives. “My involvement with explosives mainly entails the compilation and the instrumental analysis of pre- and post-blast explosive data,” explained Luongo, “and occasionally taking part in organic synthesis reactions, which is a fancy way of saying we made explosives.

“I’ve always been interested in forensic science, but my explosives experience started when Professors Jim Smith and his wife Jimmie Oxley asked that I serve as an undergraduate researcher in their lab,” said Luongo.

“The URI chemistry department has professors who will bend over backwards in order to help a student succeed in a subject that at times can be extremely overwhelming. Teachers with a good sense of humor always make a good impression on me,” he added.

After graduation, Luongo hopes to work for a biotechnology company like Amgen of Pfizer. “I do have the initiative to return to grad school shortly after,” he said. “If the opportunity arose in graduate school or in my occupation to work with explosives I would gladly take advantage of it.”

“College has taught me to live and make decisions on my own,” said Luongo. “Most of them have been good decisions, but not all. But part of living is making mistakes and learning from them. I’ve learned how to live with other people, and I have made many friends who I am going to miss terribly when I leave.

“In some ways college has taught me to make good use of my time because we do get a lot more freedom than in high school. The more you get involved the more you enjoy the four-year stay, but the faster it goes by. This was the quickest four years of my life,” he concluded.

URI News Bureau Photo by Michael Salerno Photography