Hendrix Awarded Research Equipment Grant

CONWAY, Ark. (October 4, 2010) — Science students at Hendrix will be better prepared for research thanks to a recent grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The $275,000 award will fund the acquisition of a new 400 MHz Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) Spectrometer.

“This is by far the most important analytical tool in organic chemistry for determining molecular structure,” said Dr. Tom Goodwin, professor of chemistry at Hendrix. “It will make a big difference in educating undergraduate chemistry students and preparing future researchers.”

Students in organic chemistry, biochemistry and the college’s Advanced Techniques in Experimental Chemistry course will benefit directly from the new instrument.

The new NMR spectrometer will replace an older unit the chemistry department has used for several years. The new model will create a stronger magnetic field, offering better resolution so students can observe the nuances in molecular structure, Goodwin explained.

Goodwin authored the winning proposal along with Shelly Bradley, who is the college’s instrumentation specialist, lab development assistant, and chemical compliance director, as well as faculty peers Dr. Andres Caro, a biochemist, and Dr. Chris Marvin, an organic chemist. Marvin contributed to the writing of the proposal shortly after he was hired in spring 2010.

“When I was offered a teaching position at Hendrix, it was clear that there was an opportunity to make an immediate impact at the College by helping update the NMR facilities,” Marvin said. “Modern NMR instrumentation is essential for my research. The students in my research group at Hendrix will make extensive use of this technology as we work to develop new chemical reactions and then use those reactions to prepare medicinally-relevant molecules.”

“In addition to better resolution, the new instrument has a host of capabilities that we were previously without. For example, a sample changer on this NMR will give us the capability to routinely use this instrument in our organic lab courses,” Marvin commented.

The Hendrix faculty team also collaborated on the grant with Hendrix alumnus Dr. W. Richard Counts, associate professor of chemistry at Arkansas State University-Beebe. Counts’ students will be able to use the new NMR spectrometer to analyze lab samples and view the results of the analyses online.

“It is very exciting for students at ASU-Beebe to have access to an NMR spectrometer. Science classes at the two-year college level rarely have research equipment like this,” Counts said. “I am grateful to Dr. Goodwin and the Chemistry Department at Hendrix for allowing us to be a part of this wonderful opportunity.”

The collaboration between Hendrix and ASU-Beebe made the proposal more competitive, Goodwin said.

“That’s something NSF really likes to see … proposals that have a broader impact,” he said. “They like to see you collaborating with community colleges and involving under-represented minorities in the sciences.”

The grant was part of the National Science Foundation’s Major Research Instrumentation initiative, which supports the acquisition or development of new research equipment. NSF funded about 15 percent of the more than 1,000 proposals they received, Goodwin said.

“Our proposal was justified primarily on the basis of research and research education,” Goodwin said.

“We don’t have a dichotomy here of education versus research or education or research. Our research is education,” he said. “It’s the model of learning science by doing science.”

Hendrix, founded in 1876, is a selective, residential, undergraduate liberal arts college emphasizing experiential learning in a demanding yet supportive environment. The college is featured in the 2010 edition of the Princeton Review as one of the country’s best 371 colleges, was identified as the nation’s top “Up and Coming” liberal arts college for 2011 by U.S. News and World Report, and is ranked among 45 “Best Buy” colleges by the 2011 Fiske Guide to Colleges. Hendrix has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. For more information, visit www.hendrix.edu