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dillon presto

Science. That’s what Dillon Presto knew wanted to study. He also knew he wanted hands-on research experience as an undergraduate. That’s why he chose the College of Charleston. He knew it would be his best option for both.

“Initially, I thought I wanted to study molecular biology,” says Dillon. He chose the College because it didn’t have a graduate program in that area, and he knew that meant he’d get much more one-on-one attention than he could at a large university. 

As it turns out, chemistry was his true calling. “I applied my AP chemistry credits so that I could go straight into the organic chemistry classes as a freshman. Taking those courses made me fall in love with the topic. There was something so amazing about understanding how molecules work, and the professor had an infectious enthusiasm about the subject.”

Dillon quickly found himself doing research with several professors. “I’ve been a research assistant since I was a sophomore. Much of the work I do involves attempting to synthesize certain kinds of polymers to find new ways for them to be used in organic-based solar panels. Essentially, I am developing the materials and then another team will be testing them.”

He applied for and received research grants to further this work during two consecutive summers. “A lot of what I do in the lab is independent work, and teaching yourself to learn is definitely a big thing. In our chemical synthesis class, the professor oversaw the work, but we were very hands on. For instance, he’d tell us to synthesize a certain molecule. He provided the literature and procedures, but as far as the techniques and learning how to proceed, we had to look that up ourselves. That left a lot of room for things to go wrong, but that’s the most effective way to learn. The fact that you have to dig and learn for yourself, that helps cement the information in your mind.”

In the future, Dillon wants to lead a research team doing materials work in quantum chemistry or chemical engineering. “The experiences I’ve had here will translate directly to that.”

Program Information

The chemistry department offers a supportive yet challenging environment where students benefit from accomplished faculty members and dedicated staff, state-of-the-art facilities, hands- on use of modern instrumentation and a culture that emphasizes experiential learning through participation in mentored research.

Our faculty members conduct research in a broad array of topics from analysis and synthesis of drugs to biofuels and the comparison of theoretical models to experimental observations of interesting new materials. heck out the chemistry major, it’s a lot more than you ever imagined.


  • Research-focused program (students can earn up to 10 credit hours for research).
  • Student research offices and state-of-the-art labs.
  • Students accepted to graduate schools with full- tuition scholarships in many cases.
  • Graduates have diverse careers in forensics, industry, teaching, research, health care, law and business.


  • Summer stipends available for conducting research.
  • Students make presentations at scientfic meetings.
  • Hands on use of scientific instruments.