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MU College of Science professors receive grant

On September 19, 2012

Derrick Kolling, assistant professor of chemistry at Marshall University, and several of his colleagues were recently awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation.

This grant will truly benefit the College of Science as a whole, Kolling said.

The $340,000 grant will be put toward the purchase and use of an electron paramagnetic resonance spectrometer, or NMRI. Kolling said it will be used to study unpaired electrons, also known as free radicals.

Kolling will be using the spectrometer to understand a process of photosynthesis, specifically hydrogen generation, which can be used to generate biofuels.

We would like to recreate this process in a laboratory setting, but we dont completely understand the natural process. Understanding how this system works will allow us to more efficiently generate biofuels., Kolling said.

Kolling will not be the only professor who will benefit from the use of the NMRI. Three faculty members from Marshall and one professor from the University of Charleston will utilize the instrument.

Michael Castellani, professor and chairman of Marshalls Department of Chemistry will use the spectrometer to study semiconductors. Michael Norton, professor of chemistry and director of the universitys Molecular and Biological Imaging Center, will use the grant to do research on biosensors that are used to detect toxins.

Dr. Nalini Santanam, associate professor of pharmacology and coordinator of the cardiovascular, obesity and diabetes research cluster at the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine will use the spectrometer to study atherosclerosis. While Xiaoping Sun, associate professor and coordinator of the chemistry program at the University of Charleston will research radioactive waste disposal using the equipment.

The professors are not the only ones who will benefit from the use of the NRMI.

Part of the reason we received the grant was that the proposal had a very strong educational outreach component, Kolling said.

Each professor will incorporate both graduate and undergraduate students in the use of the spectrometer and their particular field of study.

Undergraduate students will get a chance to perform research on a highly specialized piece of equipment, not many institutions the size of Marshall have this opportunity. This will be an excellent experience for them, Kolling said.

Elizabeth Stewart can be reached at

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