By the time the Materials Assembly and Design Excellence in South Carolina
(MADE in SC) award was made by NSF in 2017, Winthrop University’s Department of Chemistry, Physics and Geology
was well positioned to be a major player in the project. With faculty hires in solid state photochemistry (Cliff Harris, 2011), hydrothermal crystal growth (Maria Gelabert, 2012) and supercapacitors (Fatima Amir, 2014), the department was in a strong position to join 9 other SC institutions in the EPSCoR Track I award for Research Infrastructure Improvement (RII). Harris, Gelabert and Amir all contribute to the strategic goals of Thrust 1 - Optical, Electrochemical and Magnetic Materials
In this article, we focus on three alumni of Winthrop who participated in materials research over the years as undergraduates and are currently completing a doctoral degree.
Tyra Douglas (2015) completed an ACS Chemistry degree with a Forensic Science concentration. Now at the University of Alabama, Tyra is completing her doctoral work in the solid state chemistry group of Jared Allred, whose broad focus is inorganic materials with functional properties. Tyra is especially interested in magnetic structure characterization and local structure identification using diffuse scattering, contributing to two recent papers on molybdenum-doped vanadium oxide, where crystals were synthesized by chemical vapor transport (CVT), then analyzed with total X-ray scattering and electrical resistivity measurements. Her Winthrop research experience in the Harris lab inspired interests in sustainable energy within efforts to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. Read more about Tyra's research interests
After completing her ACS Chemistry degree, Jessica Zinna (2016) is now in the laboratory of Mayra Lieberman at the University of Notre Dame. This group focuses on analytical and physical chemistry for developing products in low resource settings, and Jessica is working on Paper Analytical Devices (PADs) for her dissertation research. With the choice of graduate study, she is inspired by the opportunity to expand a field of knowledge. At Winthrop, Jessica conducted research in nanoparticle synthesis (in the Gelabert lab), as well as organic synthesis. With pharmaceutical aspirations, Jessica started her graduate program, contributing to two papers on CsPbBr3
nanocrystals. Read more about Jessica's research interests
ster (2019) completed an ACS Chemistry degree, then joined the sustainable energy lab of Peter Burns at the University of Notre Dame, a fully equipped actinide lab regulated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. This group focuses on synthesis and characterization of actinide compounds, and Cale is now immersed in crystal growth of uranyl peroxides from molten salt fluxes. His Winthrop experience in the Harris lab with nanoparticles has shaped his understanding of growth of micron-scale crystals for structural characterization. Read more about Cale's research interests
All three Winthrop alumni cited small class sizes, low student/teacher ratios, and personal connections with faculty as a major factor in choosing Winthrop. With scholarships like the Eagle-STEM Scholars Program
and the Winthrop McNair Scholars Program
, science and math students have opportunities to engage and grow with a cohort of peers within an educational environment firmly anchored in the liberal arts.