Chemistry Seniors Capture Poster Award

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Extensive hands-on research is integral to a Harvey Mudd education, but it doesn’t end there. The College is committed to teaching students how to communicate their findings effectively and professionally through top-notch written work, posters and presentations.

Chemistry students Sejal Shah ’14 and Anastasia Patterson ’14 recently earned Best Poster awards at the Materials Research Society national meeting in San Francisco. Their poster, titled “Coupling of a Homologous Series of Porphyrin Dyes to Zinc Oxide Nanorod and Nanotube Photoanodes in Dye-Sensitized Solar Cells,” illustrates fundamental studies on easily manufactured low-cost alternatives to silicon solar cells. Shah and Patterson were in Symposium B, Organic and Inorganic Materials for Dye-Sensitized Solar Cells.

Their faculty advisor is Hal Van Ryswyk, professor of chemistry and department chair.

“Sejal and Anastasia were clearly the center of attention at the poster session, fielding questions on both their own work and the overall arc of the project,” said Van Ryswyk. Co-authors on the research are Emily Ross ’14, Mo Zhao ’16, Amy Konsza ’12, Samantha Fisher ’12, Laura Collins ’11, Chiara Giammanco ’10, Mark Hendricks ’10, Ha Seong Kim ’11, Daniel O’Neil ’11, Trevor McQueen ’09, Nancy Eisenmenger ’09 and Ryan Pakula ’09.

Van Ryswyk lauded Shah for “a breadth and depth of experience that is uncommon in an undergraduate researcher,” and noted that Patterson, a more recent addition to the project team, has created “beautiful zinc oxide nanotubes that previously required multiple trips to the Stanford Nanofabrication Laboratory to produce.”

“It’s only when they get outside of Harvey Mudd that they see just what they have accomplished,” said Van Ryswyk.

Along with Patterson and Shah, Mudd chemistry students Sara Tweedy ’14, Marie Kirkegaard ’15 and Christian Stevens ’14 have all garnered national awards at scientific conventions during the past year.

The Materials Research Society is an organization of materials researchers from academia, industry and government that promotes communication for the advancement of interdisciplinary materials research to improve the quality of life. The MRS has over 16,000 members in more than 70 countries.