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Professor Tonks receives ACS new investigator program grant

Assistant Professor Ian Tonks has received a $110,0000 grant from the American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund Doctoral New Investigator Program. This program aims to promote the careers of young faculty by supporting fundamental, high scientific caliber research in the petroleum field.

Tonks' group will be using the award to explore the fundamental chemistry behind a new type of copolymerization reaction between carbon dioxide and ethylene to make biodegradable polyesters. Developing such a polymerization would represent a significant advance toward making new, inexpensive and biodegradable alternatives to traditional petrochemically-derived plastics like polyethylene, while also providing a new use for greenhouse emissions.

Tonks joined the Department of Chemistry in July 2013, after serving as a post-doctoral scholar at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, working with Professor Clark Landis. In 2011, he earned his doctorate in organometallic chemistry at the California Institute of Technology under the tutelage of Professor John Bercaw. He received his bachelor's degree in chemistry from Columbia University while working with Professor Gerard (Ged) Parkin.