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Merck Grant Enhanced Student Research, Chemistry Instruction

July 26, 2007

SELINSGROVE, (Pa.) – Susquehanna University has been awarded a $40,000 grant from The Merck Company Foundation for laboratory equipment that will enhance student research experiences and organic chemistry instruction. The grant will be used to purchase a polarimeter and a preparative-scale High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) for an organic chemistry lab in the university's proposed new science facility.

“The scientific instrumentation supported by this grant will help enable Susquehanna University to continue to offer distinctive and excellent undergraduate education in the sciences, particularly organic chemistry. The Merck Foundation has long supported those efforts here and elsewhere, and we appreciate their continued support,” said Lucien T. Winegar, dean of the School of Natural and Social Sciences.

The equipment will be used by all sophomores majoring in chemistry, biochemistry and biology, as well as most earth and environmental science majors, as part of a two-semester sequence of courses in organic chemistry. The equipment will also be utilized for advanced instruction in chemistry and student-faculty research.

The polarimeter will be used routinely by students to characterize samples isolated or synthesized in the organic chemistry lab, allowing them to make connections between the lecture and laboratory components of the organic chemistry sequence. The instrument will also be used in courses on inorganic chemistry and instrumental analysis. In the research lab, the instrument will be used to determine the optical activity of new bioactive natural products isolated from rare plants.

The preparative HPLC system has wide applications in chemistry and biochemistry, and will provide students with a means of rapidly separating and purifying molecules. The instrument will be used routinely for the isolation and purification of organic molecules of biological interest from natural products.

The grant is provided through the Merck Cherokee plant's Neighbor of Choice program (NOC). The plant, located in Riverside, supports community organizations and educational institutions like Susquehanna University in their efforts to improve science education, as well as increase access to health care, the arts and social services. Since 2000, the Cherokee plant has obtained over $200,000 in Merck Company Foundation funding for Susquehanna University, including $95,000 for the science department's Centralia Research Project and $76,000 in support of the university's Science in Motion program. The Merck Company Foundation is fully funded by Merck & Co., Inc. and is the company's major source of support for non-profit organizations.

The lab equipment purchased through the foundation's generous gift will be housed in Susquehanna's new science facility, the centerpiece of the $70 million capital campaign Changing Lives, Building Futures . The building is envisioned as a 75,000-square-foot facility situated on the site now occupied by North Hall Parking Lot. With a projected cost of $33 million dollars, the new state-of-the-art building will house Susquehanna's “wet sciences” – biology, chemistry, and earth and environmental sciences. The facility is expected to open in the fall of 2010.

The building's design will place emphasis on flexible space, a sense of community and, where possible, green designs. It will provide teaching, research and support space that fosters the practice of faculty teaching science by doing science with students. Integrated learning laboratories will allow students and faculty to move easily between presentation, data collection, analysis and discussion in a setting that utilizes current instrumentation and technology to support teamwork and facilitate investigation. Collaborative research laboratories will allow for long-term projects, iterative problem-solving and intense collaboration so that students are well-prepared for further study, science-based careers and responsible citizenship.

Contact: Victoria Kidd
570-372-4119

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