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Doering Is Latest Student to Receive
Kell Container Scholarship

RELEASED: June 2, 2008

Skye Doering
Skye Doering

EAU CLAIRE — Ten years ago this spring, the Kell Container Corp. of Chippewa Falls endowed a new scholarship to support a University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire junior or senior who demonstrated outstanding ability in undergraduate student/faculty collaborative research. The scholarship has been supporting outstanding students ever since.

Senior Skye Doering, Eau Claire, is the most recent recipient of the award. A chemistry major with a pre-medicine emphasis, he is being mentored by Dr. James Boulter, assistant professor of chemistry, in the proposed research, "Effect of Dissociated Oxygen on the Structure of Low Temperature Water Ice Films."

Doering began working with Boulter about a year ago, an experience he describes as a great learning experience and a lot of fun.

"One thing I've learned is that water is much more complex than I ever knew," Doering said. "I use to think, 'it's only three atoms, how complicated can it be?' It turns out to be very complicated and there is much we have yet to learn."

Doering's collaborative research involved studying low-temperature water ice films that are characteristic of ice particles found in polar mesospheric clouds. It's thought that these "clouds at the edge of space" may be important as possible indicators of climate change, he said. The goals of the research group of which Boulter and Doering are a part are to investigate the microstructure of the nanometer-sized ice particles which make up PMCs and to study how they are affected by highly reactive oxygen atoms present at this altitude.

For the proposal that earned him the Kell scholarship, Doering was involved in nearly all aspects of the project, from design to publication. He spent hours in the Phillips Science Hall machine shop helping construct the custom parts needed for the vacuum chamber he and Boulter used to run their experiments, many of which Doering designed himself. He was responsible for all data collection, and Boulter assisted him in learning new data analysis techniques.

"Skye has been great to work with, and I recognized his potential immediately when advising him as a freshman," Boulter said. "When he joined my research group, I gave him a journal article I had published on the research topic he will study. He dove right into it, digesting even some of the more advanced content and asking good questions about the work. I knew working with Skye would lead to a great collaboration, and I look forward to the coming year."

Boulter will mentor Doering in the writing and publication of their research results, to be submitted to journals such as Geophysical Research Letters or the Journal of Physical Chemistry. Along with research team member and recent graduate Kristen Strobush, they presented related research results titled "Low Temperature Ammonia Ices: Structure and Interactions with Organic Adsorbates" at the spring 2008 meeting of the American Chemical Society held in New Orleans. They will attend the Coupling, Energetics and Dynamics of Atmospheric Regions conference in the summer of 2009 to present the results of this work.

Kimera Way, executive director of the UW-Eau Claire Foundation, said when the Kell brothers — John, Mike and Tom — endowed the Kell Container Scholarship 10 years ago, they were intrigued and excited by the idea of collaborative research and thought it was a tremendous way to bring professors and students together on projects. In the past 10 years, their scholarship has supported students studying physics, mathematics, geology, psychology, biochemistry and chemistry.

"Since its inception, the Kell Container Scholarship has been the most prestigious award the university gives in recognition of outstanding undergraduate student research," said Way. "It's appropriate that we recognize and encourage this kind of research given UW-Eau Claire's status as the Center for Excellence in Undergraduate Student/Faculty Collaborative Research. We are very fortunate that the Kell family had the foresight to recognize and invest in this important mission of the university."

John Kell, who died in 2005, was a UW-Eau Claire alumnus and served on the board of directors of the UW-Eau Claire Foundation, as has his brother Mike. The Kell family and the Kell Container Corp. have a long history of supporting UW-Eau Claire and have established a other scholarships and awards in addition to the Kell Container Scholarship.

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