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Five chemistry students receive research fellowships

Four Department of Chemistry graduate students and one undergraduate student have received honors from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP). Honorees include Victoria Chemistruck, Christopher Roberts, Stephanie Roe, Katherine Stevens, and William Wolf. They are among 2,000 students from across the country, including 24 from the University of Minnesota, to receive these highly competitive and prestigious honors.

All, but Wolf, are first-year graduate students, currently serving as teaching assistants. Wolf is an undergraduate who is completing his bachelor's degree this spring and will be attending graduate school.

Chemistruck earned her bachelor's degree in chemistry with a minor in biological sciences from San Jose State University in 2010. Her undergraduate research focused on the structure-property relationship of stable organic free radicals. She is working on organic materials. Her co-advisers are Assistant Professor Christopher Douglas from the Department of Chemistry and Professor C. Daniel Frisbie from the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science.

Roberts graduated from St. Olaf in 2010 with degrees in chemistry and mathematics. His undergraduate research included the study of the synthesis of heteronuclear organometallic complexes from molybdenum dithiolate precursors. His current research focuses on the inorganic synthesis of low valent arene-stabilized metal atom reagents. His adviser is Professor John Ellis.

Roe graduated from the College of Saint Benedict in 2010 with bachelor degrees in chemistry and music. Her undergraduate research involved kinetic studies of metal-alkoxide catalysts for ring-opening polymerization. Her graduate research focuses on designing a new type of polymerization catalyst. Her advisers are Professors Marc Hillmyer and William Tolman.

Stevens earned her bachelor's degree in chemistry, with minors in physics and music, from Carthage College in Kenosha, WI, in 2010. Her work with Associate Professor Christy Haynes' group has a materials chemistry emphasis, and includes designing, synthesizing, and characterizing multifunctional mesoporous silica nanoparticles for drug delivery applications. For her fellowship application, she proposed new interior and exterior modifications to the nanoparticles that she works on.

Wolf is graduating this spring with a bachelor's degree in chemistry, and plans on attend graduate school in California to study and develop new catalytic methods. For a year, he worked in Assistant Professor Andrew Harned's lab on the synthesis of new organocatalysis. For the past year, he was been working with Professor John Ellis on the synthesis and characterization of low valiant polyarene metal species.

The National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines. GRFP fellows receive three years of support, including $30,000 annual stipends, $10,500 cost-of-education allowances, international research and professional development opportunities, and TeraGrid supercomputer access.

The criteria for receiving fellowships are rigorous. Applications are reviewed by panels of disciplinary and interdisciplinary scientists, mathematicians, engineers, and other professional experts in graduate education. Panelists looked at the strength of the academic records, whether the proposed plans of research are potentially transformative, descriptions of previous research experiences, and references.

To support students seeking these fellowships, Haynes and Assistant Professor Connie Lu host a NSF-proposal writing workshop during graduate student orientation each year.

Pictured: back row from left, Victoria Chemistruck, William Wolf and Christopher Roberts; front row from left, Katherine Stevens and Stephanie Roe.