Two Fairfield University professors have received large grants to fund their research in the College of Arts and Sciences and School of Natural and Behavioral Sciences and Mathematics.
Dr. John Mieczniowski, Ph.D., professor of biochemistry and chemistry, was given $306,950 to fund a brand new machine that would improve research for many natural science majors.
“The NMR [Nuclear Magnetic Resonance] Spectrometer,” said Mieczniowski, “is used to determine how pure your compounds are.”
An NMR machine allows scientists to determine the structure of molecules, which is useful because some molecules are composed of the same atoms arranged differently. The arrangement of the atoms impacts the properties of the molecule.
Students will be allowed to have a hands-on experience with some of the newest technology in their field to date.
Senior Jack Bell explained, “All of us in the Chemistry and Biochemistry department are very excited about the NMR. To put it simply, the NMR can be used to gain insight about the structure of the analyzed compound. For instance, when one is in the lab, if one creates a new compound, it needs to be studied for its structure, as that isn’t always known. As such, the NMR is one of the most important tools for synthetic chemists, so it’s very exciting to be getting a new machine.”
“It will be very good for both teaching and research.” Mieczniowski continued.
He described how difficult it can be to get a grant such as this. “We have actually applied for this four times. We got it on the fourth try.”
According to Mieczinkowski, the process is often long and complicated. He explained that they had to continuously revise their work until they finally succeeded.
Biochemistry majors in particular are among the most excited for the arrival of the new NMR Spectrometer.
Junior Rocky Reilly said, “I am so excited to get a new NMR! As a member of Dr. Aaron Van Dyke’s lab, we synthesize molecules to understand biological processes. The instrument will allow us to characterize our molecules. I’m glad we’re finally getting a new one.”
Van Dyke is one of the many chemistry and biochemistry professors who will be benefiting from the use of the new technology.
The current NMR is 18 years old and is only 300 MHz. The new machine will be arriving in May of 2019 and will be much stronger at 400 MHz.
Dr. Angela Biselli Ph.D. was the other professor awarded a grant. Biselli will be using the funds to complete her research in studying the structure of protons and neutrons. Biselli is a professor in physics at the University. She was awarded $148,413 for her three-year study in collaboration with the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility in Virginia.
Biselli, who also serves as the chair of the physics department, will be traveling to and from the Jefferson Facility to collaborate with other scientists to do analyze quarks. Quarks are elementary particles that are understood to combine to form subatomic particles.

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