Brandi Cossairt named 2015 Packard Fellow

Brandi CossairtThe David and Lucile Packard Foundation has named the University of Washington’s Brandi Cossairt as one of 18 Packard Fellows for 2015. The Packard Foundation chooses scientists in the early stages of their careers and supports the more innovative avenues of investigation that traditional funding may not give them the freedom to explore.

“It is really an honor — humbling and amazing,” said Cossairt, an assistant professor in the UW Department of Chemistry. The fellowship includes a five-year research grant of $875,000.

Cossairt and the members of her lab — at last count nine graduate students, one postdoctoral fellow and several undergraduates — pursue research to synthesize and manufacture new molecules for applications in green technology such as solar energy and fuel production.

“I like to group chemists into two categories — makers and measurers,” said Cossairt. “We’re definitely makers.”

Cossairt works on crystal formation at the “nanoscale,” a window of size between 1 and 100 nanometers. For reference, 1 nanometer is 100,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair. This range of exploration is intermediate between the scale of individual molecules or atoms and larger — but still microscopic — realm of bacteria or crystalline aggregates. It is also a scale with unique properties, especially for the nanocrystals Cossairt studies.

“The properties of materials at this scale just tend to be really different than if they were smaller or larger,” said Cossairt. “In the nanoscale, when you change the size of these nanocrystals, their electronic structure changes. You can alter what color of light they absorb and what color they emit, for example.”

Light emitted from nanocrystals

Light emitted from nanocrystals synthesized in the Cossairt lab for display applications.  Courtesy of the Cossairt group.

Many of Cossairt’s research projects explore the light-interacting properties of nanocrystals. One goal is to synthesize new light-emitters for energy-efficient lighting and electronic displays. Other projects aim to produce new, efficient light-absorbing compounds for solar cells.

Cossairt’s research also explores new methods for fuel production. Just as she hopes semiconductor nanocrystals could harvest light for solar energy, she is looking at how nanocrystals could harvest light directly for fuel formation, such as splitting water molecules to produce hydrogen. In a separate project, Cossairt and her team are exploring how nanocrystals could absorb a pollutant, such as carbon dioxide gas from industrial output, and convert it into octane, a useful hydrocarbon fuel.

In addition to these green applications for nanocrystals, Cossairt and her laboratory study new ways to manufacture nanocrystals quickly and efficiently.

“The tools to work at this scale are developing, and if you don’t make your crystals the same size they won’t all have the same properties,” said Cossairt. “What we really try to do is to make these nanomaterials cheaply and uniformly.”

Indium phosphide nanocrystal

A single crystal X-ray diffraction structure — the first of its kind — of an indium phosphide nanocrystal synthesized in the Cossairt lab. Courtesy of the Cossairt group.

Part of Cossairt’s motivation in these projects is a sense of social responsibility for the challenges of the 21st century.

“As a scientist, I ultimately want to do things that help people,” she said. “We need green energy, and lots of it, and my background in materials science and chemistry makes this application the right space for my training.”

Cossairt earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the California Institute of Technology and a doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She began to study nanocrystal properties as a postdoctoral researcher at Columbia University before joining the UW faculty in 2012. Cossairt is the third Packard Fellow to come from the UW Department of Chemistry and the ninth overall for the university, seven of whom are still at the UW.

Every year, about 50 universities are invited to nominate two faculty members who are in the first three years of their careers for consideration as a fellow. A 12-member scientific panel recommends fellows each year for final selection by the Packard Foundation Board of Trustees, in fields from biology to engineering.

“The previous Packard Fellows have been astounding, so I feel like I’m in great company,” said Cossairt.


For more information, contact Cossairt at 206-543-4643 or

See the original post of this story by James Urton, News and Information, at UW Today here.

Karen Goldberg receives the 2016 ACS Award in Organometallic Chemistry

Goldberg 2015The American Chemical Society has announced Professor Karen Goldberg as the recipient of the 2016 Award in Organometallic Chemistry. This national award recognizes outstanding research in the preparation, reactions, properties, or structure of organometallic substances that is having a major impact on research in organometallic chemistry, with special consideration for demonstrated creativity and independence of thought. Established in 1983, the ACS Award in Organometallic Chemistry continues to be supported by the Dow Chemical Company Foundation. Professor Goldberg will be honored at an Awards Ceremony on March 15, 2016 as a part of the 251st ACS National Meeting in San Diego.

Professor Goldberg was nominated for her groundbreaking work in developing mechanistic understanding of fundamental reactions in organometallic chemistry and for her application of this understanding in organometallic catalysis. Her pioneering studies of reductive elimination reaction mechanisms have become textbook examples of fundamental research guiding catalyst design. Professor Goldberg is a world leader in the activation and functionalization of C-H bonds in hydrocarbons, where her work may lead to better utilization of fossil resources such as natural gas.

Professor Goldberg is the Nicole A. Boand Endowed Professor of Chemistry and Director of the Center for Enabling New Technologies through Catalysis (CENTC). CENTC, a National Science Foundation Phase II Center for Chemical Innovation, brings together researchers from across North America to collaboratively address the economic, environmental and national security needs for more efficient, inexpensive and environmentally friendly methods of producing chemicals and fuels from a variety of feedstocks. While the University of Washington serves as the lead institution, CENTC has 19 senior investigators at 15 locations across the U.S. and Canada, along with several industrial affiliates.

For more information about this and other ACS national awards, please see the announcement of the 2016 national award recipients and the ACS Award in Organometallic Chemistry.

For more information about Professor Goldberg and her research, please visit her faculty page, her research group website, and the Center for Enabling New Technologies through Catalysis (CENTC).

Charles Campbell receives the AVS Medard W. Welch Award

Charlie CampbellThe American Vacuum Society has awarded the 2015 Medard W. Welch Award to Professor Charles Campbell. Recipients of the award are recognized for their outstanding theoretical or experimental research in fields related to the AVS within the last ten years. Professor Campbell was selected “for seminal contributions to determining accurate adsorption energetics and for developing key concepts for the analysis of important catalytic reactions.” He will be presented with the award, including a medal, plaque, and an honorary lectureship, at the AVS Awards Symposium on October 21, 2015, part of the 62nd AVS International Symposium and Exhibition.

Professor Campbell pursues basic experimental research concerning environmental and energy-related catalysis, interfaces in solar cells and microelectronics, and array-based biochemical analyses. The broad range of work conducted in the Campbell group is aligned along the related goals of developing exquisitely precise tools to measure effects at surfaces more sensitively than anywhere else in the world, and establishing a much deeper understanding of reactivity and physical chemistry at solid surfaces, particularly the kinetics and energetics of elementary steps in energy-related catalytic reactions on solid surfaces.

His previous accolades include the ACS Arthur W. Adamson Award for Distinguished Service to Surface Chemistry, the ACS Award in Colloid and Surface Chemistry, and an Alexander von Humboldt Research Award. Professor Campbell is a Fellow of the American Chemical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and an Elected Member of the Washington State Academy of Sciences, and he has given numerous endowed lectures, such as the Robert Burwell Lecture in Catalysis, the Gerhard Ertl Lecture, and the Ipatieff Lecture. He is the Editor-in-Chief of Surface Science Reports, previously serving in the same capacity for Surface Science, and he is an active member of several editorial and scientific advisory boards.

For more information about Professor Campbell and his research, please visit his faculty page and his research group website.

Chemistry Team receives 2015 Distinguished Teaching Award for Innovation with Technology

boydston_bryant_craig_stoll_group 2A team of four Chemistry faculty members was awarded the 2015 Distinguished Teaching Award for Innovation with Technology. Lecturers Jasmine Bryant and Colleen Craig and Assistant Professors AJ Boydston and Stefan Stoll were jointly recognized for their innovative use of technology in our instructional program. They will be honored with other 2015 Awards of Excellence recipients at a public ceremony on Thursday, June 11, at 3:30 pm in Meany Hall.

While the team members have each worked to improve student learning through technology in their individual courses, the overall impact has been broad. Their courses cover the range in our curriculum, from large undergraduate lecture courses in introductory general chemistry (Bryant, Craig) and organic chemistry (Boydston, Bryant) up to courses for our senior majors and graduate students (Stoll). Within Chemistry, the team serves as a resource for our faculty, piloting and vetting new technologies, advising our faculty on how best to adopt these technologies, generating a repository of modules, video mini-lectures, and tutorials shared among faculty, and making major contributions to curricular redesign. They have lowered the barrier for other faculty to make changes in their teaching, facilitating peer learning among colleagues in Chemistry as well as in other departments across campus. The efforts of all four are appreciated by the thousands of students they teach each year, who consistently reward their efforts with outstanding student course evaluation ratings.

Team members have been recognized for their experience and expertise in teaching at the local and national level. Bryant and Craig have participated in the Cottrell Scholars Collaborative National Teaching Assistant Workshop as well as a variety of teaching and learning initiatives at the UW, and Bryant received the 2013 “Most Engaging Lecturer” Award from the UW Panhellenic Association & Interfraternity Council. The Research Corporation for Science Advancement has honored Boydston (2014) and Stoll (2015) with the Cottrell Scholar Award, which recognizes 10-15 innovative early career teacher-scholars in chemistry, physics and astronomy at U.S. institutions.

The University of Washington established the Distinguished Teaching Award in 1970 and five are given annually to faculty members from the Seattle campus. Recipients are chosen based on a variety of criteria, including mastery of the subject matter; enthusiasm and innovation in the teaching and learning process and in course and curriculum design; to inspire, guide, and mentor students through independent and creative thinking; and mentoring other faculty and teaching assistants to help enrich the scholarship of teaching and learning. Faculty members in Seattle who receive the Distinguished Teaching Awards are inducted into the UW Teaching Academy, where they will be able to participate in a variety of Academy-sponsored projects and events to further excellence in the teaching and learning process at the UW.

Boydston, Bryant, Craig, and Stoll will be honored with the other 2015 Awards of Excellence recipients at a public ceremony on Thursday, June 11, at 3:30 pm in Meany Hall. For more information about the 2015 Awards of Excellence, which honor UW achievements in teaching, mentoring, public service, and staff support, please visit the Awards of Excellence website.

Alvin Kwiram wins 2015 Distinguished Retiree Excellence in Community Service Award

Alvin KwiramAlvin Kwiram, Emeritus Professor and Emeritus Vice Provost for Research, has been awarded the 2015 Distinguished Retiree Excellence in Community Service Award. Professor Kwiram was nominated for his contributions for the benefit of the University and the greater community – most notably, his promotion of UW’s research strengths in areas of clean energy production and storage, leading to the $6 million grant from the Washington State Legislature in support of The Clean Energy Institute, along with countless hours serving on committees and advisory boards and bringing together business leaders for collaborative projects.

Seven Chemistry graduate students awarded NSF Graduate Research Fellowships

GRFP_logo smallCongratulations to the seven graduate students in the Department of Chemistry who were awarded 2015 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships, and to the nine graduate students who received honorable mentions. The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees at accredited U.S. institutions.

NSF Graduate Research Fellowship recipients:
Zuzana Culakova (Goldberg research group)
Tyler Chozinski (Vaughan research group)
Emily Dieter (Maly research group)
Rachel Eaton (Bush research group)
Marco Howard (Vaughan research group)
Johanna Schwartz (Boydston research group)
Karena Smoll (Goldberg research groups)

Honorable Mentions:
Maike Blakely (Kovacs research group)
Caitlin Cornell (Keller research group)
Andy Dang (Turecek research group)
Lauren Gagnon (Vaughan research group)
Michael De Siena (Gamelin research group)
Michael Enright (Cossairt research group)
Troy Kilburn (Gamelin research group)
Francis (Ray) Lin (Jen research group)
Chloe Lombard (Maly research group)


For more information, please see the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program website and the full listing of NSF GRFP Awards and Honorable Mentions.

Stefan Stoll named a 2015 Cottrell Scholar

Stoll_headshot_150pxAssistant Professor Stefan Stoll has received a 2015 Cottrell Scholar Award from the Research Corporation for Science Advancement (RCSA). The Cottrell Scholar Award provides $75,000 in funding to support innovative teaching and research. The RSCA granted fifteen awards this year to early career scientists in the fields of chemistry, physics, and astronomy at institutions across the United States, recognizing the recipients as outstanding teacher-scholars with innovative research programs and academic leadership skills.

Stoll uses an experimental biophysical approach to pursue a deeper understanding of the molecular structure and dynamics of proteins and protein complexes that underlie the mechanisms of all chemical processes in life. He is developing highly sensitive and accurate methods to measure the flexibility of protein shapes using double electron-electron resonance (DEER) spectroscopy, a pulsed electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) technique that measures nanometer-scale distances between spin labels attached to proteins, allowing the determination of conformational distributions and flexibility in a manner unattainable by other methods. With DEER, it is possible to distinguish rigid proteins from flexible ones, and to quantify and visualize the flexibility, though Stoll is also working to significantly increase the sensitivity of the DEER technique to improve its use as a measurement tool.

As an educator, Stoll is interested in enhancing student engagement and increasing learning outcomes through the use of digital media. He is working to design and produce an extensive series of brief lecture videos and a set of tutorial videos, which will be integrated into his physical chemistry courses, as well as an online open-access textbook for undergraduates in physical chemistry.

Please visit the Research Corporation website for more information about the Cottrell Scholars program and the 2015 award recipients.

For more information about Professor Stoll and his research, please visit his faculty page and research group website.

Brandi Cossairt awarded 2015 Sloan Research Fellowship

Cossairt_HeadShot_sqAssistant Professor Brandi Cossairt has been awarded a 2015 Sloan Research Fellowship, awarded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The fellowships are “given to early-career scientists and scholars whose achievements and potential identify them as rising stars, the next generation of scientific leaders.”

Cossairt’s research is in the area of synthetic inorganic chemistry, with a focus on building up molecules and materials for targeted applications in light harvesting and catalysis.

The fellowships include a grant of $50,000 over a two-year period. Once chosen, Sloan Research Fellows are free to pursue whatever lines of inquiry are of most interest to them, and they are permitted to employ Fellowship funds in a wide variety of ways to further their research aims.

“We are very proud of these young scientists who have received these very meaningful and prestigious early career fellowships,” said UW Provost and Executive Vice President Ana Mari Cauce. “The awards will enhance the innovative work they are doing in their respective disciplines. The number of recipients this year is also a tribute to the talent our departments have brought to the UW in recent years — these young faculty members are at the top of their fields at this point in their careers and as such the future of the University looks very bright.”

This year’s 126 fellows come from 57 colleges and universities in the U.S. and Canada and cover many different fields in the sciences, including oceanography, computer science, astronomy, neuroscience, economics and chemistry. Since the program began in 1955, 43 fellows have received a Nobel Prize in their respective fields, along with many other prestigious awards.

Candidates are nominated by their fellow scientists, and winning fellows are selected by an independent panel of senior scholars on the basis of a candidate’s independent research accomplishments, creativity and potential to become a leader in his or her field.

Please visit the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation website for more information about the Sloan Research Fellowship and a full list of recipients.

For more information about Professor Cossairt and her research, please visit her faculty page and research group website.

Daniel Gamelin wins 2015 Inorganic Chemistry Lectureship Award

GamelinThe American Chemical Society Division of Inorganic Chemistry has announced Professor Daniel Gamelin as the winner of the third Inorganic Chemistry Lectureship Award. Prof. Gamelin was nominated by his peers for his broad, unique, and outstanding sustained contribution to the development of inorganic nanoscience. He will be presented with the award at a symposium held in his honor at the 250th ACS National Meeting in Boston, August 16-20, 2015.

Gamelin’s research combines synthesis, spectroscopy, and ligand field theory or ab initio electronic-structure methods to elucidate key functional properties of inorganic materials. His work has been recognized with numerous awards including the ACS Inorganic Nanoscience Award, a Sloan Research Fellowship, a Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award, and a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a Senior Fellow of the Zukunftskolleg, and a Scialog Fellow of the Research Corporation.

For more information about Professor Gamelin and his research, please visit his faculty page and research group website.

Three Chemistry graduate students honored as inaugural PNNL Graduate Fellows

PNNL logo squareCongratulations to Chemistry graduate students Jose Araujo (Gamelin research group), Rachel Eaton (Bush research group), and Michael Enright (Cossairt research group), who have been named as the first-ever PNNL Graduate Fellows. The awardees will be supported by research assistantships funded by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) for Spring Quarter 2015.

The PNNL Graduate Fellowship Program provides recipients with valuable research experiences complementary to their graduate education at the University of Washington. This program was recently established by the Department of Chemistry and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory with the goal of generating new opportunities for collaboration, accelerating progress in research areas of mutual interest, and strengthening existing ties between the Department and PNNL. Our institutional ties were also recently expanded through the addition of PNNL scientists Dr. Thom Dunning and Dr. James De Yoreo to the Chemistry faculty; each holds an appointment as Affiliate Professor of Chemistry with graduate faculty status, which allows them to supervise graduate students at the University of Washington.

Please see the Graduate Program website for more information about the awardees: Jose Araujo, Rachel Eaton, and Michael Enright.