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National Science Foundation Grant Allows
Phillips to Continue Research with Students

RELEASED: Aug. 30, 2007

Jim Phillips
Jim Phillips

EAU CLAIRE — University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire chemistry professor Jim Phillips will once again be able to give four chemistry students the opportunity to collaborate with him on ongoing research thanks to support from the National Science Foundation Research in Undergraduate Institutions grant program. The $189,000 grant will allow two local students — seniors Kaitlin Kronenberg, a Blugold Scholar from Eau Claire, and John Rohde, a physics major and chemistry minor from Chippewa Falls — to continue working with Phillips, while two new students — junior Elizabeth Schinke, Eau Claire, and sophomore Timothy Gallert, Green Bay — join them this fall.

Phillips and his students will extend their previous experimental and theoretical research on how condensed phase environments change molecular structures in a novel class of nitrile donor acceptor complexes whose gas-phase structures undergo significant changes in the solid state or in solution.

"This is basic chemical research in which we are identifying and characterizing a class of molecules that change structure dramatically when placed in different environments," said Phillips, adding that while the potential for future applications of such research is something he and his students may only glimpse, his immediate concern is with their development as scientists.

"Thinking, communicating, and identifying and solving problems are all skills that this kind of research helps develop" said Phillips. "And whether these students go on to be research chemists, teachers, doctors, pharmacists, or something entirely different, those are all skills that they will need and that will make a difference in their lives."

Several of Phillips' past students have, in fact, gone on to top graduate programs.

For their research, Phillips and his students will use an infrared spectrometer that was purchased with funds from a Henry Dreyfus Teacher Scholar Award that Phillips received in 2004, along with a new high-performance computing system used for molecular modeling that was purchased with funds from a recent ACS Petroleum Research Fund grant. They will be targeting systems that can be incorporated into nano-scale molecular assemblies, possibly offering pathways for inducing motion at the molecular level via external stimuli, ultimately leading to novel nanotechnology applications. The research will be enhanced by ongoing collaborations with chemists at the University of Minnesota and the Kodak Corporation.

For more information on this latest NSF grant, contact Phillips at 715-836-5399 or phillija@uwec.edu.

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NW

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