Faculty Receive a Nearly $300,000 NSF Grant for Equipment

Aug 21st, 2019

Faculty Receive a Nearly $300,000 NSF Grant for Equipment

From left to right are Dr. Pamela Lundin, Dr. Andrew Wommack and Dr. Meghan Blackledge.

HIGH POINT, N.C., Aug. 21, 2019 – High Point University’s Drs. Pamela Lundin, Andrew Wommack and Meghan Blackledge, all assistant professors of chemistry, received a $299,500 grant from the National Science Foundation’s Major Research Instrumentation program.

The grant money will support the purchase of a 400 MHz Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectrometer to continue undergraduate research in HPU’s new Wanek School of Natural Sciences. The NMR spectroscopy is one of the most powerful tools available to chemists to determine the structure of molecules.

“In organic chemistry, the most common elemental nuclei that are observed are hydrogen and carbon because these elements are found everywhere in organic molecules,” says Lundin. “The position of the element in the molecule will determine its properties by NMR. By looking at all the signals present in a molecule, we can figure out where the elements are and therefore, the overall structure. NMR analysis is one of the topics students learn in the organic chemistry courses we teach at HPU.”

NMR spectroscopy allows chemists to examine the structure of unknown molecules and to confirm what kind of molecule they formed in the lab. With this new technology, Lundin will be able to continue her research in conjugated polymers, which are conductive plastics. These materials can be used to build bendable smartphones, tablets and flexible portable solar chargers.

“Drs. Wommack, Blackledge and I will also use it extensively in our research programs, which range from developing new organic materials to looking at biochemical mechanisms and discovering new therapies,” says Lundin. “We are also excited about incorporating this instrument into outreach programs like the HPU Mobile Community Lab to instruct neighboring students and the community about structural chemistry and NMR.”

Last year, Wommack was awarded two chemistry grants from the National Science Foundation totaling nearly $600,000. The first grant helps better understand exercise-induced stress on cellular function, and the second grant focuses on how plants react to stressors.