Bates chemistry major awarded for research

Kristin J. Smith, a chemistry major, is one of four undergraduate students nationwide to receive the American Chemical Society’s I.M. Kolthoff Enrichment Award.

The award recognizes outstanding undergraduate research in analytical chemistry. Smith, a senior from Plattsburgh, N.Y., has participated in Dana Professor of Chemistry Thomas Wenzel’s research into molecular chirality, or “handedness” — a phenomenon in which some molecules of a given compound are mirror images of the remaining molecules, with potentially critical reactive differences. For instance, “right-handed” molecules of the compound might have beneficial medical properties, where their “left-handed” equivalents would be toxic.

Smith is researching the use of amino acids to impart specific chirality. The Kolthoff award is the second she has received for this work. Last spring, a $5,000 fellowship from the pharmaceuticals giant Pfizer Inc. enabled her to continue her research at Bates through summer 2001.

The American Chemical Society’s Division of Analytical Chemistry presents the Kolthoff award to encourage talented undergraduates to pursue further studies in analytical chemistry. The $500 award supports recipients’ travel to the society’s national meeting to present their research. This is the second time a student of Wenzel’s has won the award. The first winner was Jolene Thurston ’00, of Post Mills, Vt., who received the Kolthoff in 1999.

Smith and this year’s other Kolthoff recipients will travel in April to the society’s annual gathering in Orlando, Fla.

A professor of analytical chemistry at the University of Minnesota, the late I.M. Kolthoff was a 20th-century leader of the profession, author of numerous influential textbooks and a major researcher in electroanalytical chemistry.

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