NSF Grant Brings New Research Tool to College

08-29-2014

Virginia Wesleyan has been awarded a National Science Foundation Major Research Instrumentation Grant of more than $120,000 that will enable the College to purchase a gas chromatography system with mass spectrometric detection (GCMS), VWC President Billy Greer announced Aug. 26. Funding was awarded to the project’s principle investigators Maury Howard and Kevin Kittredge, both associate professors of chemistry at Virginia Wesleyan. “The GCMS will further expand the College’s undergraduate research opportunities and faculty scholarship in the natural sciences,” says Howard. “It will directly enhance the quality of research training in chemistry, biology and earth and environmental sciences.” Plans are underway to transform a room in Blocker Hall—the College’s natural sciences building—into a dedicated research lab for the GCMS. The instrument will be used to investigate the potential of natural products (specifically sea sponge toxins) for possible use in pharmaceuticals; evaluate green chemistry practices for the development of pharmaceutical feedstocks; evaluate and characterize metal ion coordination materials for use as sensors; evaluate the effectiveness of environmental pollution reduction measures; and investigate plant evolution through the examination of the plant sterol pathway. This will be the first mass spectrometer to be housed on the VWC campus and is expected to be used regularly by three to five faculty members and to support nine to 16 undergraduate research projects each year. Blocker Hall renovations are anticipated to begin during the College’s winter break. For more information, contact Associate Professor of Chemistry Maury Howard at mhoward@vwc.edu. More