The Chemistry Department at Western Maryland College has received a $30,000 grant from the National Science Foundation's Instrumentation and Laboratory Improvement Program.
The money will be used to buy two pieces of laboratory equipment for experiments developed by the department which will encourage collaboration between students in organic chemistry and biochemistry courses.
By collaborating, students will experience how scientists from different disciplines conduct research together in a laboratory, college officials said.
The grant provides essential support to Western Maryland's mission to encourage its science students to participate in projects that duplicate "real world" science and offer them opportunities to conduct research with their professors for publication in academic journals.
For example, two undergraduate science students are involved in a two-year research project with Dr. Carol A. Rouzer, assistant professor of chemistry at Western Maryland. Dr. Rouzer and her assistants are studying potential anti-cancer compounds with the support of a prestigious Cottrell College Science Award from Research Corp. of Tucson, Ariz.
The two pieces of lab equipment to be bought are an ultracentrifuge and a high-performance liquid chromatograph. They represent state-of-the-art technology and provide research-quality results.
The ultracentrifuge can spin solids or liquids up to 60,000 turns a minute, separating lighter from heavier materials. Researchers use the device in the study of viruses, intracellular structures, proteins, and DNA.
The liquid chromatograph is a powerful tool for purification and analysis of a wide variety of substances, from drugs to enzymes.
Dr. Rouzer said the NSF grant enables the college to further emphasize the laboratory and research components of a science education at the undergraduate level.
"We are very pleased about receiving this grant in support of the program," Dr. Rouzer said. "The new equipment will enable us to provide students with an important collaborative experience in organic chemistry and biochemistry."