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Sara Skrabalak, Cottrell Scholar Award

Tucson, AZ – April 12, 2012 – Research Corporation for Science Advancement (RCSA), America’s oldest foundation devoted exclusively to science, announced today that it is honoring Sara Skrabalak, assistant professor of chemistry, Indiana University-Bloomington, with a prestigious academic award, the Cottrell Scholar Award. The Award, one of 11 issued nationally this year, recognizes leaders in integrating science teaching and research at America’s top research universities. Each recipient receives a $75,000 grant and admission to an exclusive community of scholars, the Cottrell Scholars Collaborative. This year’s awards are made as RCSA celebrates the 100th anniversary of its founding by Frederick Gardner Cottrell, for whom the awards are named. The awards, instituted in 1994, honor Cottrell, a scientist, inventor and philanthropist. Cottrell was a science visionary, whose invention of the electrostatic precipitator was an early environmental innovation that reduced pollution from smokestacks. Cottrell founded what is now RCSA to provide support for scientific research and experimentation at scholarly institutions. “RCSA has named Skrabalak a 2012 Cottrell Scholar, based on her innovative research as well as her passion for teaching,” said James M. Gentile, RCSA president and CEO. 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 come from living organisms and their carbon-based molecules. 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 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. The Cottrell Scholars program owes its origins to RCSA’s concern with the apparent separation of teaching and research in Ph.D. institutions. “Rather than being communities of university-scholars, universities are often perceived as collections of specialists,” RCSA’s Gentile said. “We seek to reinforce the growing awareness that these two functions are complementary rather than wholly or partially exclusive.” ### For further information: contact Emma Mittelstadt at Goodman Media International, 212-576-2700 x250 or About Research Corporation for Science Advancement – Research Corporation for Science Advancement ( – formerly known as Research Corporation – was founded in 1912 and is the second-oldest foundation in the United States (after the Carnegie Corporation) and the oldest foundation devoted wholly to science. Research Corporation is a leading advocate for the sciences and a major funder of scientific innovation and of research in America’s colleges and universities. Follow updates from RCSA on Facebook and Twitter.

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