Chemistry grant will send SEMO students to India for research

Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Dr. Mohammed Ali, left, and Dr. Bjorn Olesen of Southeast Missouri State University's Department of Chemistry have received a grant from the National Science Foundation. The grant will allow the department to send four students per summer to India for research in 2011, 2012 and 2013. (Bailey Reutzel-breutzelsemissourian.com (573) 388-3654)

Southeast Missouri State University's Department of Chemistry has been awarded a $128,268 grant from the National Science Foundation to send students to India for three summers, beginning next year.

Two professors applied for the grant, Dr. Bjorn Olesen and Dr. Mohammed Ali. They said this year was their third time submitting an application to the foundation.

"There were more than 50 institutions that applied, and usually these grants go to big institutions, Ivy League schools," Ali said.

"We are very pleased we were able to get this tremendous opportunity for the students to not only do chemistry but also get a unique cultural experience," Olesen said.

The grant, U.S.-India Program for Research in Green Chemistry, was given to Southeast by the foundation's International Research Experience for Students program, which focuses on giving students a global perspective and involving them in international cooperative research and networking to help them grow professionally. Over the next three summers, 12 students, four per summer, will be studying at the Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science in Kolkata, West Bengal, India.

Dr. Chris McGowen, dean for the College of Science and Mathematics, said the grant, which the foundation announced in mid-May, was received too late for students to participate this summer.

The Southeast students will be researching and experimenting in green chemistry, looking for ways to efficiently limit pollution.

"The students will be developing new catalysts for organic transformations," Ali said. "If we succeed, it will generate very few side products and very little waste."

The process would be used by pharmaceutical and chemical companies, Ali said.

Students will work through chemistry, instrumentation and cultural orientation at Southeast during the spring semester before spending eight weeks in India from June to July.

As well as the U.S.-India Program for Research in Green Chemistry grant covering students' air travel, housing and visa, Southeast is also providing students with a $3,000 stipend to cover food and other incidentals.

The selection process for the research experience will start in the fall semester.

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