This Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) site award to the University of Wyoming (UW), located in Laramie WY, will bring seven community college (CC) students and two CC professors to UW each summer from 2021 to 2023. This program, jointly supported by the Division of Chemistry and the Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR), will allow students and faculty to contribute to chemistry research on projects ranging from energy, to materials, to bio-related topics. Each student will work closely with one of the participating faculty mentors who have been carefully selected for their research accomplishments and successful mentoring records with undergraduate researchers. This hands-on research experience also includes a variety of activities (seminars, mini-courses on ethics and writing, and energy-related field trips) to educate and train students for their future careers as scientists.
The higher education system in Wyoming is comprised of a single 4-year/graduate level university along with seven community colleges. This REU site emphasizes serving students and faculty from regional CCs to positively impact students and science in WY and surrounding states. This program will engage first and second-year undergraduates, who are early in their college career, and expose them to graduate level chemistry research. The wide range of projects offered includes the synthesis and characterization of nanoparticule-based catalysts; site-selective photochemical protein modification; and the chemistry of molecular hydrogen quantum crystals. On this latter project, it is worthy of note that cryogenic solid molecular hydrogen is a unique condensed phase environment due to a variety of quantum mechanical effects such as large amplitude translational zero point motion of the individual H molecules and the presence of ortho and para nuclear spin manifolds. A variety of non-classical dynamics occur within such crystals at liquid helium temperatures. These research experiences will provide a more in-depth view of chemistry research and of perspective on potential job opportunities in the chemical sciences. The students in this program will also have opportunities for professional development including training in ethics, scientific communication, and preparation of resumes and graduate school application materials.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.