University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota

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Vlaisavljevich receives doctoral dissertation fellowship award

One of the Department of Chemistry's top doctorate students—Bess Vlaisavljevich—received a 2012-13 Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship (DDF) program award.

The Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship program is a university-wide competition that supports top doctorate students in their final year of study. This year, 137 awards were made. Awardees receive an academic year stipend of $22,500, participate in a monthly seminar series, present their research at an annual poster session, and receive travel grants to present their work at a national or international conference.

Bess is entering her 5th year of graduate school, conducting research under the tutelage of Professor Laura Gagliardi. Her research interests center around the electronic structure and reactivity of the actinides and lanthanides using a variety of theoretical tools including CASSCF/CASPT2 and density functional theory. One of Bess' current projects investigates the growth of uranyl peroxide nanocapsules in aqueous media. The final topology of the nanocluster depends upon the initial reaction conditions. The nature of the alkalai counterion as well as the pH of the solution are some of the factors involved in controlling cluster growth. In Gagliardi's research group, they are studying the growth mechanism of small clusters as well as the properties of the final clusters observed experimentally. The ultimate goal is to work in collaboration with experimentalists to further their understanding of these clusters in solution.

Other topics that Bess is interested in include actinide and lanthanide borohydrides, theoretical studies to identify reaction products generated in matrix isolation spectroscopy, aqueous neptunium chemistry, and organoactinide complexes.