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Chemist Receives NSF Funds to Study
Photochemical Properties

RELEASED: Sept. 25, 2009

EAU CLAIRE — Dr. Stephen Drucker, professor of chemistry at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, has received a $222,318 grant from the National Science Foundation.

Stephen Drucker
Dr. Stephen Drucker

The project's goal is to improve the understanding of photochemical reactions, chemical reactions that are initiated by the energy from light, Drucker said. For example, light from the sun promotes a variety of reactions in the atmosphere. In his experiments, Drucker uses light from a high-precision laser to mimic the sun, but under the well-controlled environmental conditions of the laboratory.

"We learn how the laser energy deforms the molecules, or weakens the bonds, thereby making the molecules more susceptible to falling apart during collisions with other molecules," Drucker said. "This information can help other chemists predict or simulate the result of molecular collisions that lead to reactions. This could ultimately help scientists design new kinds of materials or interfere with the progress of destructive chemical reactions."

The NSF grant is a renewal of a previous project that involved seven undergraduate students over the past four years.

"The benefit to our students has been significant," Drucker said. "They have received training in state-of-the-art instrumental techniques, and, more importantly, in the scientific method."

One former student researcher now is pursuing graduate studies in human genetics at the University of Pittsburgh and another is in medical school at Michigan State University, Drucker said, noting that current student collaborators are chemistry or physics majors who plan to enter doctoral programs in these fields.

Drucker's project, "RUI: Spectroscopic Studies of Cyclic Conjugated Molecules in Triplet (n,pi*) Excited States," was funded by the Experimental Physical Chemistry Program of the chemistry division of the NSF.

For details, contact Drucker at 715-836-5390 or druckers@uwec.edu.

-30-

JB/DW

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