Gonzaga University News Service
Life for Gonzaga University chemistry faculty Matthew Cremeens, Tommaso Vannelli and Jeffrey Watson got better quickly last week when their collective grant-writing labors paid off with a grant from the National Science Foundation allowing them to buy a research instrument (and attachments) valued at more than $181,000.
More commonly known as a circular dichroism (CD) spectrometer, the small rectangular unit is an incredibly valuable tool and one highly unusual for a university like Gonzaga to receive, said Cremeens, lead investigator.
“What is special is very few primarily undergraduate institutions like Gonzaga have this kind of instrument,” Cremeens said. “It’s very rare and we are very lucky to receive it.”
As always, Gonzaga’s good fortune in the sciences translates into huge benefits for science students and research.
“It means undergraduates will continue to be exposed to state-of-the-art equipment in their training here. We aim to incorporate the instrument into Biochemistry, Bioanalytical, and Organic labs this semester,” Cremeens said.
The grant is timely, too, as Gonzaga’s chemistry department becomes the department of chemistry and biochemistry this year, and the tool has tremendous utility for biochemistry. Life’s molecular building blocks often exhibit “handedness,” and this instrument allows researchers to study the handedness of molecules, especially biomolecules. It facilitates in-depth inquiry necessary in Gonzaga’s new Bachelor of Science degree in biochemistry.
With many research projects proposed, this tool will help provide students with invaluable research experience to be more competitive. Through Gonzaga’s Indian Education Outreach Program, Native American students and high school teachers also will be able to use it.