Main Menu

DiLella, Vila receive $40k in Research Challenge Fund grants

ISSUED: 5 February 2015
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens

SHEPHERDSTOWN, WVTwo Shepherd University science professors have received nearly $40,000 in grant money from the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission’s Research Challenge Fund to purchase equipment for use in their classes. 

Dr. Dan DiLella, professor of chemistry and Department of Chemistry chair, received a $20,000 grant to help purchase a nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer, which is one of the most important tools used by chemists for determining the structures of molecules. DiLella said the instrument will be used almost on a daily basis for both undergraduate research and for teaching.  

DiLella said use of the NMR spectrometer is usually introduced and is used extensively in the sophomore-level organic chemistry class for routine analyses. For most samples, the instrument is relatively simple to operate and a student can be trained fairly quickly. More sophisticated uses of the instrument will examined in other upper-level courses and in research projects. 

“For the last several years our students have not had the opportunity to operate an NMR instrument,” DiLella said. “With this instrument they will gain practical hands-on experience that will be useful in their future careers.”

DiLella said one of the requirements for approval of a chemistry program by the American Chemical Society is having an operational NMR spectrometer.

The other grant, in the amount of $19,242, went to Dr. Peter Vila, assistant professor of environmental and physical sciences. It will be used to purchase a Eureka Manta 2 multiparameter water quality instrument that monitors the physical, chemical, and biological attributes of aquatic systems. 

In the grant application Vila said the Eureka Manta 2 can simultaneously and accurately measure depth, temperature, dissolved oxygen, turbidity, conductivity, pH, oxidation reduction potential, rhodamine, chloride, chlorophyll, and blue green algae in water, and that many of these things are “critical for understanding the impact of variable environmental conditions on distribution, number, and health of aquatic organisms.”

Vila said having this instrument will help students prepare for future careers because it is widely used by professionals in the environmental science field.

“Students will learn to calibrate multiparameter probes in the laboratory, utilize and/or deploy them in the field to obtain data, and retrieve and analyze the data from the instrument for subsequent analysis, interpretation, and presentation,” Vila said. “This instrument is a critical component in many environmental and ecological applications and would expose Shepherd students to current technology and facilitate future employment or graduate education.”

— 30 —