Dr. Jennifer Scott Back From Sabbatical

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Dr. Jennifer Scott Back From Sabbatical

By: 27182 Officer Cadet (IV) Carmen Kiltz

A research project certainly demands a lot of work and attention. Imagine, however, the amount of work that is involved in being a part of several research projects at once! This was exactly the case during Dr. Jennifer Scott’s Sabbatical Leave, an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, who not only follows her own research project but also lends her expertise in inorganic chemistry to several collaborations in her department.

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As a university professor, your time is generally divided between teaching, research, and service tasks according to your faculty.

On sabbatical, the focus is oriented fully towards research. This focus is what allowed the postdoctoral grad in organometallics and inorganic chemistry to contribute to many projects. Between 01 July 2015 and 30 June 2016, Dr. Scott had her hands full.

During the first half of her sabbatical, she concentrated on organizing the 48th Inorganic Discussion Weekend, a conference hosted at RMC in November 2015. This was the first time it has been hosted at the College in twenty-four years. Universities from Ontario, Quebec, and upper New York attended with over 140 registrants. Over the course of the weekend, thirty-six talks were given and over fifty project posters put on display. (More photos from the weekend)

Giving plenary lectures were two subject area experts: Dr. Reimer from RMC and Dr. Daniel Mindiola from the University of Pennsylvania. Eight international companies were also present, and all chemistry and chemical engineering students helped out in various areas including security, guiding guests, setting up for the banquet and poster session, and presenting RMC at an exhibition. This RMC exhibition showed off different kits, uniforms and weapons; it had an ammunition booth and a sneak peak at the Slowpoke reactor lab, and overall portrayed and presented RMC well.

Jennifer noted that there is always a banquet hosted, however this year it was hosted RMC-style in the form of a mock “mess dinner,” organized by Capt. Franklin. At the banquet, Chris Hadfield spoke over video to the group, making the event extra unique. Being such a small campus, RMC was well represented in hosting this weekend.

During the second half of her sabbatical, the Sudbury Ontario native shifted her focus towards her involvement in the research projects.

“Getting into my lab was important to me,” she said, “I had time to turn ideas over in my head.” She also notes that she had time to read a lot more and dig through research thoroughly- something she does not normally have sufficient time for during the school year.

I asked Dr. Scott, who had taught me first year Chemistry and Inorganic Chemistry in my second year, what some of the projects which she had been working on were like.

In one project of interest, titled the “Preparation of nanoscale zero-valent iron (nZVI) using green methods for the degradation of trichloroethylene,” Jennifer, along with Dr. Kela Weber, is working to make iron nanoparticles using antioxidant-rich natural products, preferably from waste material. These nanoparticles are injected into the ground in contaminated areas to clean up toxic chlorinated spills. Natural products include green tea, leaves, weeds, grape pomace (the leftovers from making wine)…it is a project which incorporates green chemistry techniques.

A second project, in collaboration with Dr. C. Thurgood, involves making copper nanoparticles, which are embedded in a porous medium to act as a catalyst for methanol steam reforming. This process generates hydrogen gas from methanol fuel, which could then be used as the fuel for fuel cells.

“Although it is very much at an early stage, this research aims to optimize the current standards, using a cheaper, more readily available metal, lower reforming temperatures, and reduced carbon dioxide production,” she notes.

Yet another project, in collaboration with Dr. Olivier Lebel, concentrates on creating molecular glasses with reactive transition metal catalysts. Among other applications, they are hoping to design some that can react with and decontaminate chemical warfare agents on contact. The hope is that this research can lead to the creation of coatings for CBRN suits which act more effectively in contaminated areas.

Dr. Scott’s sabbatical leave may be over, but the research continues. This upcoming school year, Jennifer will be teaching both Inorganic and Organic Chemistry to second-year students.