AUSTIN, Texas—Dr. Michael J. Krische, assistant professor of chemistry in the College of Natural Sciences at The University of Texas at Austin, has been named a Cottrell Scholar, one of 14 people in the nation to receive the honor.
Cottrell Scholar awards fund original research with potential for undergraduate participation. Awards are made to U.S. and Canadian universities to further the teaching and research of junior faculty members in Ph.D.-granting universities across the fields of astronomy, chemistry and physics.
Applicants must be in the third calendar year of their first tenure-track position. Awards are for $75,000, which can be used at the discretion of the awardees.
The teaching and research plans outlined in Krische’s application focus on the development of environmentally benign catalytic processes en route to chiral pharmaceutical agents. Chiral molecules can exist as non-superimposable mirror image forms.
Different mirror image forms can have different biological activities. For example, the essence of menthol is the mirror image of the essence of caraway. The development of catalytic methods that yield molecules as single mirror image isomers is an intensive area of modern research and was the topic of this year’s Nobel Prize in chemistry.
“It is estimated that 20 percent of the gross national product in the United States derives from catalysis,” Krische said. “Last year alone, the chiral drug market topped 100 billion U.S. dollars in sales. The potential societal benefits derived from basic research in catalysis cannot be underestimated. The opportunity to couple such research with undergraduate education is simply a win-win situation.”
The Cottrell Scholar awards, which are given by the Research Corporation, a foundation for the advancement of science, seek to reinforce faculty mentorship, communication and collegiality in university science departments. The awards aim to assist the recipients to become outstanding scientists and educators, as well as tomorrow’s academic and scientific leaders.
The awards are named in honor of Frederick Gardner Cottrell, scientist, inventor and philanthropist, who founded Research Corporation in 1912 to provide means for scientific research and experimentation at scholarly institutions.