NSF Graduate Research Fellowship

NSF Winners2022 Recipients: Jennifer Guzman Pichardo (Waldie Group) and Iram Fatima Mansoor (Lipke Group)

The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines. The NSF GRFP is the oldest graduate fellowship that directly supports graduate students in the STEM fields. This prestigious and competitive fellowship includes three years of financial support including an annual stipend and an education allowance to the institution.

Jennifer Guzman Pichardo (left) obtained her B.S in Chemistry from the City University of New York H. Lehman College. As an undergrad, she worked with Dr. Andrei Jitianu on synthesizing melting gels to use as a replacement for chromium VI as a more effective and safe anti-corrosive coating. As a RISE/REU scholar, she worked on investigating the influence of different parameters to obtain good quality coatings by using electrospray deposition of melting gels on different substrates, particularly silicon wafers and AZ31B magnesium alloy under the supervision of Dr. Jonathan Singer. Jennifer commenced her graduate studies in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Rutgers University with the Support from the SUPER Grad Fellowship. Currently, Jennifer works with Dr. Kate Waldie with the aim to expand and develop new photoswitchable DHP- based ligands, DHP-MOF structures, and supramolecular complexes for fundamental photophysical studies.

Iram Fatima Mansoor (right) was born and raised in Queens, NY where she completed her primary and secondary education in a small K-12 private Islamic school. At the age of 16, she started her undergraduate studies at Rutgers University studying biochemistry as a pre-medical student but soon switched majors after realizing a unique appreciation for chemistry. At the start of her junior year, she began working with Professor Mark Lipke to study how viologen-like redox-active ligands affect the electronic properties of transition metal complexes. She graduated in May 2020 with an ACS certified major in Chemistry, cum laude, and continued her studies at Rutgers as a graduate student in the Lipke group. Iram is currently studying the electronic and catalytic properties of metaloviologens and supramolecular porous nanostructures. Outside of lab, Iram spends much of her free time with her family of 6 and 50+ cousins. With support from the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program, Iram will work to design new catalysts that utilize electricity from renewable sources, such as solar or wind power, to transform abundant molecules, such as H2O, N2, and CO2, into fuels and other value-added chemicals that are currently derived from environmentally harmful feedstocks such as coal, oil, and natural gas. Catalysts are essential for carrying out the targeted electrochemical transformations at high rates while consuming as little energy as possible, and Iram will work to develop new catalysts that incorporate organic redox centers, known as viologens, to assist catalytically active metal centers in efficiently delivering electrons to substrate molecules. Iram’s previous work has shown that precise matching of the electron-accepting properties of a metal with those of viologen-based ligands can enable sharing of electrons between the metal and multiple viologen ligands, introducing electronic flexibility to the metal complex that may allow it to accommodate the dynamic electronic requirements of multiple catalytic steps more effectively than can be achieved using just an isolated metal site. Iram’s ongoing work will seek to better understand this electronic flexibility and its influence on catalytic activity, while also seeking to improve the long-term stability of the resulting catalysts. This work will contribute to the development of new, sustainable technologies for the production of fuels, fertilizers, and other important chemicals.

More information is available on the on the GRFP website.


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