University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota

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Pierre receives National Science Foundation CAREER Award

Professor Valerie Pierre has received a CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support her research to develop and promulgate novel luminescent sensors for the study of alkali ions in neurons.

The Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program is one of the NSF's most prestigious awards. It supports junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education, and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations.

Pierre's research focuses on luminescent lanthanide probes for biological imaging of metal ions. This approach employs the coordination of chemistry and the unique photophysical properties of lanthanide complexes as components in a predictive design strategy in the development of new sensors for group I ions, and the application of these sensors in cellular imaging. The ultimate goal is to produce new tools enabling the simultaneous and selective spatio-temporal imaging of multiple alkali cations in tissues. This work advances the field of lanthanide chemistry by investigating the electronic and geometric requirements of their sensitized luminescence, and the field of molecular recognition by investigating novel binding modes. The program involves graduate and undergraduate students, including underrepresented minorities, in interdisciplinary research and education.