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The Indiana Daily Student

academics & research

Chemist wins Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar award

Sara Skrabalak, assistant professor of chemistry in the College of Arts and Sciences, is one of 15 United States scientists named a Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar for 2014.

IU can nominate one individual per year for this award. Skrabalak said it was an honor to be selected to represent the institution.

Skrabalak received her bachelor’s degree in chemistry in 2002 from Washington University in St. Louis.

She received her Ph.D. in chemistry, with an emphasis on materials, in the fall of 2006 from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and was the recipient of the T. S. Piper Thesis Research Award for her dissertation entitled “Porous Materials Prepared by Ultrasonic Spray Pyrolysis.”

She joined the IU chemistry department in 2008.

Earlier this year, Skrabalak was also awarded the American Chemical Society award in pure chemistry, which is sponsored by Alpha Chi Sigma, a professional chemistry fraternity.

Amar Flood, a previous Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar, is one of Skrabalak’s colleagues at IU. He said he is proud of Skrabalak’s accomplishments, and he is intrigued with her research.

Skrabalak said she works in the area of nanoscience that concerns itself with materials on the scale of one billionth of a meter. At that size, materials often display new properties that can be harnessed to treat disease and address energy needs.

“We can use the nanostructures made in our laboratory to answer questions related to how particle size and structure influence the properties of materials,” Skrabalak said.

She said her undergraduate chemistry mentor, professor Bill Buhro, introduced her to the idea of synthesizing nanoscale materials with defined structures.

“Control of these structural features represents a powerful means of tailoring the properties of a material for a given application, and demonstrating this control has remained a theme throughout my research ever since that early laboratory experience,” Skrabalak said.

She said she enjoys working with the talented group of graduate and undergraduate students at IU.

“They are the people who actually do the physical work in the laboratory, and their enthusiasm and creativity motivates and energizes me,” Skrabalak said.

Skrabalak said applying for the award requires a research and education summary and a list of letters of support. She said it gave her an opportunity to reflect on what she has done and what her future research plans are.

“It is a huge honor to be included among such an amazing list of scholars whose innovations have been sources of inspiration for my group’s research,” Skrabalak said.

The award is given by the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation, an organization intended to create and support opportunities for innovation in the sciences.

“The intent of the Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar award is to support exceptional young academic researchers at an early and crucial stage of their careers,” said Mark Cardillo, executive director of the foundation. “They have been selected based on their independent contributions to both research in the chemical sciences and education.”

Skrabalak said receiving the award reinforces her belief that research and teaching efforts are complementary endeavors.

“I hope to provide the best training environment possible for the next generation of diverse and interdisciplinary scientists,” Skrabalak said.

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