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Featured Grant Work


Dr. Caleb Hill 

Project Summary

Research. Understanding reactivity at the atomic or molecular scale has long been a central focus of the chemical sciences. Scientists have traditionally approached the study of chemical systems through the analysis of bulk properties, employing techniques which probe upwards of millions of individual atoms or molecules simultaneously. Unfortunately, many systems of interest, such as nanoparticles, are extremely heterogeneous and exhibit significant variations in reactivity that are “averaged out” in conventional studies. The ability to obtain measurements which reflect the reactivity of single chemical entities could fundamentally improve our understanding of these systems. With support from the Chemical Measurement and Imaging program in the Division of Chemistry, Prof. Caleb Hill and his group at the University of Wyoming are designing new experimental techniques to probe the reactivity of single, discrete entities. These techniques will utilize small, electrolyte-filled pipets as multipurpose tools to manipulate the position of single entities within a macroscopic sample and characterize their chemical behavior. Once validated, the developed techniques will be applied to identify promising electrocatalyst materials for applications such as water splitting and CO2 reduction.

Outreach. Complementing the research efforts outlined above, the Hill group will also establish an outreach program focused on measurement science, “Measure Anything”, in order to encourage K-12 students in Wyoming and beyond to pursue studies in STEM fields. In this program, students will first be introduced to the basics of measurement science through simple analytical experiments made available as online course modules. Students will then be invited to design and carry out their own analytical projects, working with student mentors and utilizing facilities at the University of Wyoming. The efficacy of this program will be assessed by tracking the academic progress of engaged students and evaluating changes in attitudes towards science and research.

Impacts

Research Impacts. Students who work on this research will receive training in a variety of areas, including (but not limited to) electroanalytical techniques, optics, instrumentation design, software development, and materials synthesis. The intellectual development of students will be fostered through day-to-day interactions with the PI and weekly group meetings where students discuss research results and current literature with their peers. Students will also be heavily involved in the dissemination of research results, drafting manuscripts and regularly giving presentations at professional meetings. This training will ensure students are prepared to pursue careers in industry, government labs, or academia upon completion of their degree.

Outreach Impacts. Involvement in the “Measure Anything” program will provide students with tangible, hands-on experiences to build upon in their future studies and expand their view of what chemistry is as a field, both of which will have a positive impact on their attitudes towards the subject and likelihood to pursue its study at the university level. In collaboration with the LAMP program, we have established a goal of engaging 300 students per year through in-class activities. Of these 300 students, at least 5 per year will be recruited to carry out research projects.

Role of LAMP

Dr. Caleb Hill was awarded an NSF CAREER grant for which LAMP played a critical role in the development of this CAREER proposal. The training Prof. Hill received as a LAMP Fellow shaped his perspective on how to best engage with students, both in the classroom and via distance. In addition, the LAMP Director, Rachel Watson, provided invaluable guidance in crafting the proposal’s educational plan.


 

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Phone: 307-766-4415

Email: SI@uwyo.edu

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