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National Science Foundation Major Research Instrumentation Grant to Enhance Fisher’s Chemistry Research and Teaching

September 14, 2018

St. John Fisher College’s Chemistry Department will acquire a powerful piece of equipment for its laboratories thanks to a grant from the National Science Foundation’s Major Research Instrumentation program.

Students conduct research in a chemistry lab.

The $304,950 grant will be used to purchase a nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectrometer, which is among the most powerful tools used by chemists today for determining the structure of chemical compounds and for probing the dynamic behavior of weak interactions in molecules, said Dr. Bradley Kraft, associate professor of chemistry in the School of Arts and Sciences. The grant was secured in collaboration with co-PIs Dr. Renuka Manchanayakage, assistant professor of chemistry, Dr. Anand Sridhar, assistant professor of pharmaceutical sciences in the Wegmans School of Pharmacy, and the Office of Sponsored Programs.

As a replacement to Fisher’s current NMR spectrometer, the Chemistry Department plans to purchase a new Bruker 400 MHz AVANCE NEO spectrometer which will bring with it the ability to analyze samples with greater efficiency and sensitivity. The model also comes equipped with automatic calibration, improving the quality of data researchers will receive.

Brad Kraft

Brad Kraft

“The instrument is indispensable for sustaining and growing research not just in the department of chemistry, but across disciplines that conduct investigations that require NMR data for characterizing new compounds,” Kraft explained, noting that the spectrometer will be installed in the Skalny Science Center in summer 2019.

The addition of the new equipment will benefit faculty researchers and undergraduate students alike, Kraft said. With nearly every faculty member in the chemistry department utilizing the instrument in their laboratory courses or research, the new spectrometer provides students with early hands-on exposure to equipment they would likely see in graduate school or in the chemical industry.

“Faculty research is incorporated into laboratory curricula in both introductory and advanced courses, where the NMR spectrometer is essential to the success of those projects,” Kraft explained. “Biology, chemistry, and pre-pharmacy students who take those courses will have the opportunity to use the latest and greatest in chemical technology, and that’s an important part of the experience at Fisher.”

Since 2015, a total of 77 undergraduates have participated in a research experience with a chemistry department faculty member and many of these students have presented their research at local, national, and international conferences including those of the American Chemical Society, PITTCON, and the International Conference on Physical Organic Chemistry, among others. In addition, student-authored articles have appeared in leading peer-reviewed journals such as Organometallics, Tetrahedron Letters, and the Journal of Molecular Liquids

Kraft also sees the opportunity for expanded interdisciplinary and industry collaborations, noting that partnerships with faculty in the Wegmans School of Pharmacy and chemical companies are already being explored.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1828310. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.