July 15, 2011
Catalysts and Reactions
The opportunity to work closely with professors was the catalyst that propelled Sara Glazier, a chemistry major from Salt Lake City, Utah, to choose Lewis & Clark. “I knew I would be more involved with the faculty at a smaller school,” she says, “but I wasn’t expecting it to the extent that I have been.”
As a sophomore, Sara started working in the organic chemistry labs, doing all the laboratory preparations. Taking note of her interest, chemistry professor Louis Kuo invited her to do research in his lab the next summer. As a John S. Rogers Science Research fellow, Sara spent the summer working alongside Kuo, studying catalysts used to render toxic nerve agents inert. “Stockpiles of nerve agents are still left over from the Cold War,” she says, “and the government needs more effective ways to degrade them.”
Now a junior, Sara continues to work in Kuo’s lab, which is branching into other applications for its research, such as degrading pesticides and other toxic compounds. Meanwhile, Sara’s investigations have led to new avenues that she is exploring independently. “One of the things I explored in the lab opened up a way to look into the mechanisms of many other related reactions,” she says. “Understanding these mechanisms gives us insight into how the catalysts work, which could lead to new ways to degrade toxins more efficiently.” Sara recently presented her findings at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society in Anaheim.
“Working with Professor Kuo at Lewis & Clark has played a major role in my development as a scientist and researcher,” says Sara. “I’ve been able to collaborate on research with a team, and I’ve had the freedom to ask and follow through on my own questions. That independence has given me an idea of what to expect from a future in research.”