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King University News :: King Chemistry Student Presents Research at UMBC Undergraduate Symposium in Biology and Chemistry

The King University class in analytical chemistry, accompanied by Professor John Gilmer, attended the Undergraduate Symposium in Biology and Chemistry at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, Oct. 20, 2012.  At this conference, several hundred students from the mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions of the U.S. were in attendance, with more than 100 students presenting posters on their undergraduate research.  This event provided an excellent opportunity for King students to meet undergraduates like themselves who are interested and active in independent scientific research.  

Callie Todt, King University senior majoring in Biology and Chemistry, presented a poster about her research on gelation in organic photovoltaic materials (plastic solar cells).  The research relates the highlights of Todt’s undergraduate research experience at the University of Tennessee during the summer of 2012 in which she used light scattering techniques to characterize the concentration regions in which gelation occurs as well as the structures formed.  Organic photovoltaic materials represent an exciting new area of materials development enabling new portable devices which rely solely on the sun for their power.

“This conference, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), provides undergraduate science and engineering majors from many east coast colleges and universities the opportunity to competitively present posters on their independent research,” said Gilmer.  “In addition, guest experts in forensic science and biomedical research were invited as featured speakers.  It was quite an honor for Callie to present her research in such a respected venue.  This meeting served as an exciting opportunity for King students to meet students from all over the Northeast U.S. involved in real life scientific research in many exciting areas, considering a career as a research scientist.”

Todt’s research is part of much larger solar energy project.  In 2010, the state of Tennessee along with a consortium of public and private colleges and universities, including King University, and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) received $20 million in grant funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to boost the state's energy-related research and education efforts.

“In our research on organic photovoltaic materials, we want to be part of the larger effort to make these materials more efficient, in order for plastic solar cells to grow in their utility in practical applications,” said Dr. Gilmer.  “We are also interested in interfacing our students with competitive graduate programs, introducing them to research as undergraduates.”

The $20 million grant was awarded through the NSF's Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) Infrastructure Improvement Program.  A coalition of scientists, faculty, and students from the consortium were grouped together into network nodes for conducting research, mentorship, and outreach.

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