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Grant to Help Faculty, Students Pursue New Chemical Research
Friday, August 30, 2013
We need fast, accurate sensors to tell us precisely what chemicals are present in our environment and two Siena College professors are in the process of designing a product that will accomplish that goal.
Jodi O’Donnell, Ph.D., associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry, and Lucas Tucker, Ph.D. assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry, have received a Multi-Investigator Cottrell College Science Award from one of America’s oldest foundations, the Research Corporation for Science Advancement (RCSA). The Siena College chemists are taking a novel approach to designing and making sensors that change color in the presence of certain chemicals known as chromophoric liquid crystalline chemical sensors.
“Dr. O’Donnell and I were able to design a fascinating project at the cusp of my work with liquid crystalline materials and her experience with sensors that will provide a springboard for our future research directions and, ultimately, our students’ careers,” Tucker said.
The chemists and their undergraduate students at Siena College will be trying to create useful sensors that reveal the presence of various types of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). According to the Environmental Protection Agency, VOCs are emitted by a wide variety of products such as paints and lacquers, paint strippers, cleaning supplies, pesticides, building materials, furnishings and many other items. VOCs have low boiling points, which means their molecules readily evaporate from liquid or solid and enter the surrounding air.
“We hope these awards will help early career faculty establish long-term, sustainable and productive cross-disciplinary research programs,” said RCSA Interim President Jack Pladziewicz. “We also hope that by encouraging student participation in these projects, many undergraduates will be encouraged to pursue careers in science and benefit by working as part of an interdisciplinary research team.”
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