Awards Database

Cottrell Scholar Awards - 2012

Sara E. Skrabalak

Indiana University at Bloomington

New Synthetic Strategies to Multi-Metal Nanocrystals with Controlled Compositions and Structures

Skrabalak’s research is focused on materials chemistry and nanomaterials. (“Nano” refers to the very small – a nanometer is one-millionth of a meter.) She is an expert in the synthesis, characterization, and application of inorganic solids. (In chemistry, generally speaking, “inorganic” covers all materials except those that contain carbon molecules bonded to hydrogen.) She and her research associates are currently working on major challenges in chemistry and materials science, including photocatalysis and electrocatalysis, the acceleration of a chemical reaction in the presence of light or electricity. As an early-career teacher, Skrabalak mentors graduate students and undergraduates in her laboratory, and she has helped to revitalize the University’s Women in Chemistry program. She is also president of the University’s section of the American Chemical Society. The quality of her teaching, including her work in the non-majors course, Chemistry 100: The World of Chemistry, for which she received excellent student reviews, has earned her invitations to speak at various teaching workshops. Skrabalak received the Cottrell Scholar Award (CSA) based on her peer-reviewed proposal that included both research and teaching projects. Skrabalak’s CSA research project involves assembling nanoscale structures called multi-metal nanocrystals in various shapes and in ways that will allow her to “tune” their functions to perform tasks in electrochemical reactions. Meanwhile, in her CSA education project, Skrabalak, intends to take the concepts developed from this research and integrate them into a public education program that fosters understanding of nanoscience. By doing so, she said, she hopes to “strengthen the pipeline” of students pursuing degrees in science, technology, engineering and math, the so-called STEM subjects. Part of her plan involves creating a Nano Ambassadors’ Program connecting Indiana University undergraduate researchers with their former high schools. She also said she plans to create inquiry-based learning resources, aimed at encouraging students to develop experimental and analytical skills, in collaboration with Indiana’s Columbus Signature Academy. “My ultimate goal is to contribute to the development of an engaged and scientifically literate public, while equipping student scientists with the necessary skills and enthusiasm to be effective ambassadors of science,” Skrabalak said.

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