Natalia Gonzalez-Pech receives new National Science Foundation award

Natalia Gonzalez-Pech, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, has received $321,363 award from the National Science Foundation Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) Program.  The project is titled MRI: Acquisition of a Field-Emission Scanning Electron Microscope for Multidisciplinary Research Needs with Undergraduates at Hope College

Benjamin Kopek, Associate Professor of Biology, Jeff Christians, Assistant Professor of Engineering, and Michael Philben, Assistant Professor Geological and Environmental Science, are all co-principal investigators on this award.  Our dearly departed colleague Jenny Hampton was also a co-principal investigator.

This award will support the acquisition of a JEOL JSM-IT700HRLA field-emission scanning electron microscope (FESEM) with low vacuum, low voltage, energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy (EDS), and scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM) capabilities. In addition to greatly enhancing the suite of microscopy techniques available at Hope College, the FESEM provides training to a large number of undergraduate STEM students in modern instrumentation, and lead to meaningful data in diverse scientific fields.

The FESEM allows researchers to investigate (a) the synthesis of multifunctional nanomaterials for water remediation and energy-related applications, (b) the design of thermochromic photovoltaics that could lead to improved solar cells (c) techniques for the facile alignment and synthesis of responsive liquid crystalline polymers that will enable the design of adaptive, shape-programmable structures and devices, (d) the morphological differences of functionalized polymer thin films for sensing applications, and (e) the effect of wear on the morphology and composition of advanced lubrication schemes. In addition, the FESEM enhances several areas in environmental research, and in biology. Data provided by this instrument promises to increase the publication rate and funding success for faculty who otherwise have limited access to similar quality instrumentation.

Congratulations on your new award, Natalia, Ben, Jeff, and Michael!

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