A hypothesis can be a scientists’ best-educated guess about how an experiment might turn out or why they got specific results. Sometimes, they’re not far off from the truth. Other times, they’re wrong. Being wrong isn’t always a bad thing. Often, it means that the researchers get to discover something new and exciting. This exact scenario happened when the Burstyn and Buller lab decided to work together on a project.
Although art and science are commonly viewed as two completely unrelated ventures, over the years, their coexistence has been realized as more compatible than immiscible. Graduate students from the Department of Chemistry, through their recently established art and literary magazine, are advocating for this interdisciplinary approach and the benefits it renders. The Benzine, besides being a great pun, is a platform for the chemistry community to share their art, build a sense of community and alleviate stress.
Most people know mother-of-pearl, an iridescent biomineral also called nacre, from buttons, jewelry, instrument inlays and other decorative flourishes. Scientists, too, have admired and marveled at nacre for decades, not only for its beauty and optical properties but because of its exceptional toughness.
After a year in which students faced many challenges, University of Wisconsin–Madison leaders are pleased to announce plans to hold in-person commencement ceremonies for spring 2021 graduates at Camp Randall.
The university is planning two ceremonies on Saturday, May 8 — one for undergraduates, the other for all graduate degree candidates.
Individuals and businesses are scrambling to find new ways to protect themselves from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. With this interest, the effectiveness of new technologies that promise to improve indoor air quality has taken center stage. University of Wisconsin–Madison chemists have accepted the challenge of evaluating those technologies and the work is moving quickly, thanks to the lab’s partnership with HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) specialists at Johnson Controls.
The Department of Chemistry has chosen two recipients for the James W. Taylor Excellence Teaching Award – Professor Timothy Bertram and senior instructional technology specialist Dr. Rachel Bain. Like many events in the past year, the departmental gathering to present the award looked quite different. Rather than holding a large gathering on campus, the award ceremony was held over Zoom.
Vozza Professor of Chemistry Susanna Widicus Weaver arrived at UW–Madison in May to conduct research in prebiotic astrochemistry and on how life may form with the evolution of stars and planets. Weaver received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry at Illinois Wesleyan University (2000) and her Ph.D. in chemistry at California Institute of Technology (2005). She most recently was a professor of chemistry at Emory University.
It was a busy year for awards, despite the constraints of a pandemic. In May, the Department of Chemistry celebrated students, faculty and staff with an online awards and graduation event called Celebrating Student Success. Because of generous donors, the department was able to give almost $500,000 in student support. See the winners of department and other awards below.
Several years and tens of thousands of words into writing their doctoral dissertation, you’d think few graduate students would sign on to write even more. And yet over the last decade, dozens of University of Wisconsin–Madison students have done exactly that. They’ve chosen to add one more chapter to their thesis, distilling years of hard-won scientific knowledge into prose understandable by the broader public, something rarely found in a dense document typically written for other scientists.
Two WQI graduate students, Chuanhong (Vincent) Liu (McDermott Group) and Cecilia Vollbrecht (Goldsmith Group), have had their projects awarded funding through QISE-NET, the Quantum Information Science and Engineering Network. Run through the University of Chicago, QISE-NET is open to any student pursuing an advanced degree in any field of quantum science. Liu, Vollbrecht, and other students in their cohort earn up to three years of support, including funding, mentoring and training at annual workshops. All awardees are paired with a mentoring QISE company or national lab, at which they will complete part of their projects. Liu and Vollbrecht explain their projects below.