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Keystone Innovation Starter Kit (KISK) Award Presented to the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at USciences
Funds to Support Laboratory Expansion and New Faculty Researcher
Posted: Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Written By:  Holly A. Dean
Contact:  Holly A. Dean
Contact Email:  h.dean@usp.edu
Contact Phone:  215.596.8864

USciences’ Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry received a big boost on Thursday, July 29, when Governor Edward G. Rendell awarded the department one of 10 Keystone Innovation Starter Kit (KISK) awards. The grant will support the hiring of a new faculty member and a major upgrade of the Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) facility at USciences.

The KISK initiative is designed to recruit top faculty researchers in advanced knowledge areas to universities throughout Pennsylvania. Discretionary funds can also be used to develop labs, staff, and equipment in order to leverage private funding for research. With regard to the creation of the grants, Governor Rendell stressed the significance in investing in Pennsylvania’s “meds and eds” as the healthcare industry and higher education account for one out of every five jobs in the state.

With the KISK award of $100,000, USciences is able to purchase a new 400MHz nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer, significantly strengthening the University’s basic research equipment. Available for sophisticated molecular structure analysis, the new equipment will be housed adjacent to the existing NMR in a new laboratory which will be completed in December 2010.

“The KISK award will enable inorganic chemist Dr. Nathan West to join the University faculty at the start of the 2010 academic year and enhance the ongoing research in nanotechnology being conducted by Dr. Alexander Sidorenko [assistant professor of physical chemistry and co-principal investigator on the grant] and in sustainable chemistry by Dr. Guillermo Moyna [associate professor of organic chemistry and director of the NMR facility] at USciences,” said Dr. Michael Bruist, associate professor of biochemistry and principal investigator for the grant. “The results from their research will help many scientists at the University obtain more research grants in the future.”

Most recently a postdoctoral scholar at the California Institute of Technology, Dr. West’s research background is in synthetic and mechanistic organometallic and inorganic chemistry with a particular focus on developing new transition metal catalysts for fuel conversion technologies in order to move away from traditional energy sources. As an assistant professor at USciences, Dr. West plans to develop a research program based in organometallic chemistry with an emphasis on catalyst design and synthesis as well as the study of reaction mechanisms. Dr. West, a graduate of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, earned his BS degree in chemistry in 2003 and completed his PhD degree in inorganic chemistry in 2008.

“Dr. West brings to us the expertise that will fill the long standing gap in basic research at USciences – the one that focuses on fuel conversion technology,” said Dr. Vokiskava Pophristic, interim chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and co-principal investigator of the grant. “Dr. West’s research, along with the expanded NMR facility, will enable USciences to enter this fast growing field and will provide exciting new research and educational opportunities to our undergraduate and graduate students.”

The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry is the home of the chemistry, biochemistry and pharmaceutical chemistry majors, and the chemistry, biochemistry, and bioinformatics minors, as well as masters and PhD studies in chemistry, biochemistry, bioinformatics, and pharmacognosy. With expertise distributed over all five of chemistry’s primary areas, the faculty engages in diverse, award-winning teaching and research activities that prepare students for such future opportunities as employment in industry, science teaching, and postgraduate training in graduate schools, medical school and law school. For more information about the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, visit www.usp.edu/academics/collegesDepts/chemistry.

For more information on the KISK awards presented by Governor Rendell on July 29, visit http://www.newpa.com/newsroom/news-detail/index.aspx?nid=502

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