Chemistry students at The University of New Mexico are about to be one step closer to becoming fully-fledged chemists.

That is thanks to a new Partnership for Research and Education in Chemistry (PREC) between UNM and the National Science Foundation (NSF). 

The NSF awarded Professors Mark Walker and Yi He, of UNM’s Chemistry and Chemical Biology Department an $868,617 grant over the next three years for this partnership.

Walker and He will use this money to improve retention of minority undergraduate students in different chemistry fields.

Students involved will join He and Walker to conduct hands-on research in creating manipulative bacterium, as well as studying how this bacterium produces chemical products.

This includes new and useful materials and molecules like medicines.

While performing this research we will work towards another goal of facilitating the participation of people who are minoritized in the chemical sciences,” He said.

Through these studies, this project could develop a route to alter and test the pathways used to make these value-added products, for potential long term implications for hybrid synthetic/biocatalytic routes to key molecular or materials targets.

In the end, funding will also help students gain a chance to take part in summer research programs at C-GEM affiliated universities, like University of California, Berkeley and Yale, while earning competitive salaries.

We believe this grant provides us with an excellent opportunity to increase our research capacity at UNM and to broaden participation in research in the chemical sciences,” Walker said.  

Only nine other projects have received this type of funding so far.

Learn more about the exciting research underway now in UNM’s Chemistry and Chemical Biology Department here.