Chemistry professor, student building spectrometer to conduct research

GREENVILLE, Pa.—Thiel College Assistant Professor of Chemistry Chris Stanisky, Ph.D., and student apprentice researcher Amber Martin are building a device to measure chemical reactions that take place in a microsecond. Once built, they will conduct experiments with the new equipment this summer.

Their work is part of the first set of projects taking place this summer through the new Greenville Neuromodulation Center (GNC) Faculty/Student Research Institute.

“Many chemical reactions are so fast they are complete within a tiny fraction of a second, but modern electronics are sufficiently sophisticated to study these processes,” Stanisky said. “Because the intermediates in these reactions exist for very short time intervals, we say they are ‘transient.’ This summer, a transient absorption spectrometer will be built using pulsed light-emitting diodes to study fast chemical and biochemical reactions.”

Once the spectrometer is constructed, it will be available to students and faculty to conduct other experiments.

“The summer research institute presents a wonderful opportunity for students to explore their interests more deeply. In class, students tackle the fundamentals, but research illuminates the concepts,” Stanisky said. “It is invigorating to apply one’s knowledge to solve new, challenging problems. Amber and I are incredibly grateful for the privilege to do some interesting science this summer.”

Martin, of Allison Park, Pa., is a rising junior.

Stanisky has a Bachelor of Arts with majors in chemistry and Latin and a minor in ancient Greek from Franklin and Marshall College (Lancaster, Pa.) and his doctorate in physical chemistry from Yale University. He added post-doctoral research at the University of Notre Dame.

Thiel College alumni Fred Haer ’65 and his wife, Jill (Shackett) Haer ’66, have pledged more than $400,000 to fund the GNC Faculty/Student Research Institute for the next three years. The institute is concentrated on connecting science and liberal arts at Thiel College.

Assistant Professor of Biology Delbert Abi Abdallah, Ph.D.; Assistant Professor of Psychology Shannon Deets, Ph.D.; Assistant Professor of English Jared Johnson, Ph.D.; and Assistant Professor of Performing Arts Pete Rydberg, Ph.D., have also had their research projects selected to be included in the inaugural class. Student apprentice researchers will partner with faculty principal investigators on most projects.

About Thiel College

Thiel College is a private liberal arts institution founded in the Lutheran tradition. Located in Greenville, Pa., the College offers 60 majors and minors, 25 varsity sports, and a 10:1 student-faculty ratio to more than 900 students. A dedicated faculty paired with dynamic research and internship opportunities produce numerous graduate school and job placements. Coeducational from its beginnings, the College remains committed to combining tradition with innovation as it celebrates 150 years.