Clean Energy Institute Launches

CleanEnergyInstKickoff_sqA new University of Washington institute to develop efficient, cost-effective solar power and better energy storage systems launched December 12 with an event attended by UW President Michael K. Young, Gov. Jay Inslee and researchers, industry experts and policy leaders in renewable energy.

The Clean Energy Institute formed when Washington’s governor and state legislators last summer allocated $6 million to create a research center at the university that will advance solar energy and electrical energy storage capacities. The institute will better connect and boost existing energy research at the UW as well as attract new partnerships and talent, including new faculty members.

The opening of the Clean Energy Institute was covered by KIRO 7 News, the Seattle Times, and UW News. Chemistry Professor David Ginger, Raymon E. and Rosellen M. Lawton Distinguished Scholar in Chemistry, is the Associate Director of the Clean Energy Institute.  Daniel Gamelin, Harry and Catherine Jaynne Boand Endowed Professor of Chemistry, serves on the Faculty Advisory Board.

Sarah Keller receives Thomas E. Thompson Award

kellerSarah Keller has received the Thomas E. Thompson Award from the Biophysical Society. The Thomas E. Thompson Award recognizes an outstanding contribution in the field of membrane structure and assembly. Professor Keller received the award for her “contributions to our understanding of the lateral segregation of lipids into domains in membranes.” The award will be presented at the Membrane Structure & Assembly Subgroup 2014 Symposium on Saturday, February 15, 2014 in San Francisco, California.

For more information, see: http://www.biophysics.org/2014meeting/Program/Subgroups/MembraneStructureAssembly/tabid/4254/Default.aspx

To learn more about Professor Keller, visit her faculty page and research group page.

Two Chemistry faculty elected to Washington State Academy of Sciences

WSAS 2013Chemistry Professor Charles Campbell and Chemical Engineering Professor Sam Jenekhe are among the 25 new members elected to the Washington State Academy of Sciences in recognition of their distinguished and continuing scientific achievements. The Washington State Academy of Sciences provides expert scientific and engineering analysis to inform public policy-making, and works to increase the role and visibility of science in the State of Washington. The new members, elected based on their achievements, were inducted during the academy’s sixth-annual meeting in Seattle and bring the academy’s total membership to 206.

Related link: http://www.washington.edu/news/2013/09/13/15-uw-faculty-members-named-to-state-academy-of-sciences/

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

For more information about Prof. Jenekhe and his research, please visit his faculty page.

New research published in Nature explores organic solar cells

A vial holds a solution that contains the UW-developed polymer “ink” that can be printed to make solar cells.

A vial holds a solution that contains the UW-developed polymer “ink” that can be printed to make solar cells.

David Ginger, Professor and Raymon E. and Rosellen M. Lawton Distinguished Scholar in Chemistry, and Alex Jen, Boeing/Johnson Chair Professor of Materials Science & Engineering, along with other researchers, have recently reported on the role of electron spin in creating efficient organic solar cells. Their findings were recently published in the journal Nature.

Organic solar cells that convert light to electricity using carbon-based molecules have shown promise as a versatile energy source but have not been able to match the efficiency of their silicon-based counterparts. These researchers have discovered a synthetic, high-performance polymer that behaves differently from other tested materials and could make inexpensive, highly efficient organic solar panels a reality. The polymer, created at the University of Washington and tested at the University of Cambridge in England, appears to improve efficiency by wringing electrical current from pathways that, in other materials, cause a loss of electrical charge.

More information can be found at Nature and in the UW News press release.

To learn more about Professor Ginger and Professor Jen, please visit their research group websites.

Ginger Research Group: http://depts.washington.edu/gingerlb/

Jen Research Group: http://depts.washington.edu/jengroup/

Karen Goldberg appointed as a UW Presidential Entrepreneurial Faculty Fellow

GoldbergKaren Goldberg, Nicole A. Boand Endowed Professor of Chemistry and Director of the Center for Enabling New Technologies through Catalysis, is one of eight UW professors appointed as Presidential Entrepreneurial Faculty Fellows. Entrepreneurial Faculty Fellows are selected for their success in initiating groundbreaking programs to translate research into products and therapies, in collaborating with industry, and in sharing their knowledge with other UW researchers.

Throughout their two-year terms the eight new fellows will serve as mentors to other UW faculty, researchers and staff with entrepreneurial aspirations, and also share their experiences at campus entrepreneurial events. At the end of the term, fellows are encouraged to continue participation in the program and to serve as program and activity advisors to the UW Center for Commercialization (C4C).

More information about the Entrepreneurial Faculty Fellows Program can be found at the C4C website.

To learn more about Professor Goldberg, visit her faculty page and her research group site.

Exploring the origins of life

Keller cover image_squareSarah Keller, working with Roy Black, affiliate professor of bioengineering, has helped to unravel some of the mystery surrounding the origin of cells in Earth’s ancient oceans. The work, recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, describes the unexpected interaction of the chemical components of RNA and fatty acids and their role in stabilizing the precursors to cellular membranes.

The chemical components crucial to the start of life on Earth may have primed and protected each other in never-before-realized ways. That could mean a simpler scenario for how that first spark of life on the planet came about. Scientists have long thought that life started when the right combination of bases and sugars produced self-replicating ribonucleic acid, or RNA, inside a rudimentary ‘cell’ composed of fatty acids. Under the right conditions, fatty acids naturally form into bag-like structures similar to today’s cell membranes. In testing one of the fatty acids representative of those found before life began – decanoic acid – Keller and Black discovered that the four bases in RNA bound more readily to the decanoic acid than did the other seven bases tested. By concentrating more of the bases and sugar that are the building blocks of RNA, the system would have been primed for the next steps, reactions that led to RNA inside a bag.

Descriptions of the published research can be found on the UW News website and on Babbage, the science and technology blog of The Economist.

To learn more about Professor Keller, visit her faculty page and research group website.

Charles Campbell is the recipient of the 2013 Robert Burwell Lectureship in Catalysis

Charles_Campbell_BurwellCharles Camp­bell, Professor and B. Seymour Rabinovitch Endowed Chair in Chemistry, is the recip­i­ent of the 2013 Robert Bur­well Lec­ture­ship in Catal­y­sis of the North Amer­i­can Catal­y­sis Soci­ety, spon­sored by John­son Matthey.

The Robert Bur­well Lec­ture­ship in Catal­y­sis is given in recog­ni­tion of sub­stan­tial con­tri­bu­tions to one or more areas in the field of catal­y­sis with empha­sis on dis­cov­ery and under­stand­ing of cat­alytic phe­nom­ena, cat­alytic reac­tion mech­a­nisms and iden­ti­fi­ca­tion and descrip­tion of cat­alytic sites and species.

Pro­fes­sor Camp­bell is being rec­og­nized for “bridg­ing the gap between sur­face sci­ence and catal­y­sis, for devel­op­ing new con­cepts and tools in both dis­ci­plines, and for his service to both com­mu­ni­ties as Editor-in-Chief of Sur­face Sci­ence. His knowl­edge and his con­tri­bu­tions over the last three decades have encom­passed enor­mous depth and breadth. He has made sem­i­nal con­tri­bu­tions in (1) devel­op­ing meth­ods to mea­sure surface bond ener­gies, specif­i­cally calorime­try using an appa­ra­tus devel­oped by his research group and which cur­rently ranks as the most sen­si­tive heat detec­tion tool for the study of model cat­a­lysts; (2) accu­rate mea­sure­ments of the bind­ing of metal atoms and nanoparticles to oxides, which has led to mech­a­nis­tic approaches and fun­da­men­tal treatments of cat­a­lyst sin­ter­ing; (3) advanc­ing and using micro­ki­netic treat­ments of cat­alytic reac­tions, espe­cially by pro­vid­ing many clas­sic exam­ples of how sur­face sci­ence can con­tribute to the under­stand­ing of cat­alytic mech­a­nisms; and (4) for­mal­iz­ing the con­cept of ‘the degree of rate con­trol’ to assess the extent to which indi­vid­ual steps in a catalytic sequence limit reac­tions rates.”

The award con­sists of a plaque and an hon­o­rar­ium of $5,000, and is awarded bien­ni­ally. Pro­fes­sor Camp­bell will present lec­tures at the local catal­y­sis clubs and soci­eties dur­ing the two-year period cov­ered by this award. The plaque will be pre­sented dur­ing the clos­ing ban­quet cer­e­monies at the 2015 North Amer­i­can Meet­ing of the Catal­y­sis Soci­ety.

More information about the Robert Burwell Lectureship in Catalysis can be found on the award website.

To learn more about Prof. Campbell and his research, please visit his faculty page and research group page.

Matt Bush wins ASMS Research Award

matt_bushThe American Society for Mass Spectrometry (ASMS) has awarded Assistant Professor Matt Bush a research award in the amount of $35,000. The ASMS presents two awards annually. Professor Bush’s award is sponsored by the Waters Corporation for the purpose of promoting academic research by young scientists in mass spectrometry. The awards are open to academic scientists within four years of joining the tenure track faculty or equivalent in a North American university.

More information about the ASMS Research Awards can be found on the award website.

To learn more about Prof. Bush and his research, please visit his faculty page and research group page.

Gojko Lalic wins NSF CAREER Award

lalicAssistant Professor Gojko Lalic has received a CAREER (Faculty Early Career Development) Award from the National Science Foundation. The CAREER Program is a Foundation-wide program that “offers the National Science Foundation’s most prestigious awards in support of 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.” Prof. Lalic received the award for his research proposal, “CAREER: Catalytic Methods for Hydrofunctionalization of Unsaturated Compounds”. The award funds research that will investigate new general strategies for the hydrofunctionalization of unsaturated compounds using transition metal catalysis. In particular, Prof. Lalic will be:

  1. Investigating the highly selective copper-catalyzed reduction of alkynes to alkenes – a method that avoids common side reactions such as over-reduction and alkene isomerization.
  2. Studying the copper-catalyzed anti-Markovnikov hydrobromination reactions of terminal alkynes for the preparation of alkenyl bromides. These provide valuable alternatives to stoichiometric methods currently used for the synthesis of this class of compounds.
  3. Investigating the synthesis of Z- and E-alkenes via the hydroalkylation of alkynes.
  4. Studying a new general approach to the asymmetric synthesis of quaternary stereocenters based on gold-catalyzed hydrofunctionalization of chiral allenes. Using this approach, new methods for the synthesis of enantioenriched      tetrahydrofurans, tetrahydropyrans, chromans, pyrroles, piperidines, and a variety of carbocyles containing quaternary stereocenters are under investigation.

In addition to providing valuable tools for organic synthesis, Prof. Lalic is active in promoting STEM education at two local high schools by contributing to guest lectures and participating in school science fairs and Seattle-area science exhibits.

For more information about this NSF CAREER Award, please visit the award website.

For more information about Gojko Lalic and his research program, please visit his faculty page and his research group page.

Robert Synovec wins GCxGC Scientific Achievement Award

SynovecProfessor Robert E. Synovec has been awarded the GCxGC Scientific Achievement Award. He presented a plenary lecture and received his award at the 10th International GCxGC Symposium in May 2013. The GCxGC Scientific Achievement Award recognizes the pioneering contributions of key scientists in promoting two-dimensional gas chromatography (GCxGC) instrumentation, software, and method development and/or applications. Comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography is an analytical technique ideally applicable to the separation of complex samples of volatile and semi-volatile compounds. Professor Synovec and his research group have made significant contributions to this emerging technology since 1998.

To learn more about Professor Synovec’s research, please visit his faculty page and research group website.