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Professor Connie Lu has received a CAREER award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for her research project, Configuring New Bonds Between First-Row Transition Metals.
The Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program is one of the NSF's most prestigious awards. It supports junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education, and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations.
Lu’s research interests are to develop inexpensive bimetallic catalysts for small-molecule activation, specifically the reduction of carbon dioxide. Two complementary classes of first-row bimetallics will be targeted: the early-late transition metal pair (the simplest representative of a late metal particle adsorbed on an oxide support which is typical of heterogeneous catalysts); and the mid-to-late transition metal pair, which is similar to the multimetallic sites found in metalloenzymes. By using a novel ligand platform, diverse metal pairs will be constructed in a modular fashion and compared systematically.
The five-year CAREER award support will allow Lu to better integrate research with her teaching and outreach in new ways. For example, a student-created and community-edited online resource will provide public access to the results and relevant literature of this research field. Lu and members of the Women in Science and Engineering group will adapt the popular Solar Hydrogen Activity Research Kit (SHArK), an outreach program in several high schools and universities, to a solar energy workshop for middle school girls.