Inside USD

Kua, Chemistry Dept. Earn Dreyfus Awards

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation, an organization dedicated to the advancement of chemical sciences, has awarded two grants to the University of San Diego’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry — one for a faculty member and another to benefit the entire department — it was announced.

Associate Professor Jeremy Kua, PhD, was one of only six recipients nationally to receive the Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award, a program that supports the research and teaching careers of young faculty in the chemical sciences. Kua (pictured), who teaches USD courses in physical, general and computational chemistry, received an unrestricted research grant of $60,000 that runs through 2016.

“The award is based on excellent teaching and research with undergraduate students, two areas that Jeremy is absolutely excellent in,” said Debbie Tahmassebi, PhD, department chair and professor.

The department also received the Jean Dreyfus Boissevain Lectureship Award. Given to only five institutions nationally this year, the $18,500 grant brings a leading researcher to USD for a series of lectures and to connect with students and faculty. The bulk of the grant money will provide funding for two student summer research fellowships.

“Last summer we had 35 students working in the department and at least half of that was through external funds,” Tahmassebi said. “This just boosts what we can do.”

Kua’s award is a boost for both himself and for students interested in doing research work under his guidance.

“The Dreyfus award acts as a catalyst towards moving my research forward in new directions and gives the students more learning opportunities,” he said.

This is the second grant Kua has received through the Dreyfus Foundation as a USD faculty member. In August 2004, soon after arriving as a USD faculty member, he received a Dreyfus Faculty Start-up Grant that ran through August 2010.

Kua has focused much of his research on self-assembly in chemical systems during the first Dreyfus grant. He returned this fall from a yearlong sabbatical in which he studied origin of life chemistry and has expressed interest in new research projects connected to it.

He listed three important aspects for students interested in being part of his research group: He prefers that students have an interest in the specific project; his projects are “bite-sized” so that students can see their progression throughout the research process; and that students can connect the research work with what they’ve seen or learned in class.

Meanwhile, the Jean Dreyfus Boissevain Lectureship Award enables the department to bring in Columbia University Professor Colin Nuckolls, PhD, to USD in Spring 2012 as the USD Jean Dreyfus Boissevain Lecturer, Tahmassebi said.

Much of the grant money, though, is earmarked for two $4,500 summer research fellowships, one for a rising senior chemistry student and one for a rising junior or sophomore. Additional funds will be available to the recipient to cover housing, supplies and travel. The deadline to apply is Feb. 10, 2012.

These newly created fellowships add to what the USD department has done to provide more research funding resources for its students.

The department held its inaugural chemistry and biochemistry alumni fundraising event earlier this year. Contributions are helping fund an alumni summer research fellowship for a current USD sophomore chemistry student with prior research experience. The stipend is $4,000 and with it, up to $1,000 toward summer campus housing. The deadline to apply is Dec. 2, 2011.

There are also two fellowship opportunities under the Bridges to Doctoral Institutions program for female students interested in doing summer research at a PhD-granting university. USD, in partnership with the Henry Luce Foundation, provides a $4,000 summer stipend and additional travel funds, for current sophomores or juniors planning to attend graduate school in chemistry or biochemistry. The deadline to apply is Feb. 10, 2012.

— Ryan T. Blystone

  • Share/Bookmark