Four professors in Syracuse University’s College of Arts and Sciences have received Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) awards—the highest honor given by the National Science Foundation (NSF) in support of early-career development activities of teacher-scholars.
The recipients are Arindam “Ari” Chakraborty and Daniel A. Clark, both in the Department of Chemistry; and Stefan W. Ballmer and M. Lisa Manning, in the Department of Physics. All four are assistant professors.
“This is an unprecedented number of CAREER awards for The College,” says Dean George M. Langford. “We are extremely proud of our recipients, all of whom integrate research and education within the context of our institutional mission. These awards exemplify the importance we place on faculty excellence in interdisciplinary teaching, research, service, and enterprise.”
Each CAREER award is approximately five years long and contains a research and education component. It also provides each recipient with generous financial assistance, mainly for research staff, equipment, and educational work.
Ari Chakraborty is an expert in physical and theoretical chemistry, quantum mechanics, and nanomaterials. His CAREER project will involve theoretical investigation of the optical properties of quantum dots, which are particles of matter so small that their electronic properties are strongly dependent on their size and shape. His project will focus on the application of quantum dots for efficient solar-to-electricity and solar-to-chemical energy transformation pathways.
"I want to know how these properties are affected by various factors, such as size, shape, temperature, chemical composition, and structural strain,” says Chakraborty, whose work is also supported by NSF's Chemical Theory, Models, and Computational Methods Program. “Fundamental understanding of these processes can help design nanomaterials with enhanced photovoltaic and light-harvesting properties.”
According to Chakraborty, quantum chemistry algorithms and computational software developed during the project will be open-sourced and distributed to the community for free.
“The educational component is designed to assist high school students in their research and inspire the next generation of scientific researchers,” he says.
Daniel Clark studies organic and organometallic chemistry, catalytic reaction development, and natural product synthesis. His CAREER award will develop catalytic methods for the silylvinylation of alkynes, which are unsaturated hydrocarbons containing one or more carbon-carbon triple bonds. This process leads to a new carbon-silicon and a new carbon-carbon bond in a single step. When olefins (i.e. ethylene) are utilized, this methodology can create dienes--hydrocarbons with two carbon double bonds--of high synthetic value.
The objectives of Clark’s research are two-fold: to use ethylene, a cheap and abundant gas, to produce cyclic compounds that contain a diene; and to use vinylboronates as coupling partners with alkynes to create more complex diene systems.
“Successful implementation of this research will positively impact organic chemistry, agro-chemistry, pharmaceuticals, and the materials industry,” he says.
Clark will also incorporate workshops for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) educators in the Syracuse and North Syracuse school districts. Many of his lecture materials and chemical experiments will be made available for K-12 classroom use.