Kalamazoo College students and researchers soon will have more effective opportunities for chemical analysis thanks to a $255,000 grant from The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation. The grant allows K to replace an aging nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectrometer, allowing students to analyze and identify chemical compounds and structures with state-of-the-art equipment.
Foundation president Macauley Whiting Jr. said of this charitable commitment, “The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation is deeply committed to science education as a means of vitalizing our entire region. Our history and our mission are linked to the type of innovative thinking that helps drive society forward. This grant invests in students who will lead scientific discovery in the years to come. These experiences will help prepare them for productive careers across a number of scientific fields. It would be our hope that they will choose to be part of Michigan’s future.”
NMR, like the more familiar magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) procedures used in medicine to diagnose injuries and diseases, applies a magnetic field and radio frequencies to a patient or a small chemical sample to give observable signals. These signals are like jigsaw pieces that assemble to provide a picture of what’s present. Kalamazoo College Chemistry Professor Greg Slough said nearly everything people eat, wear or consume at one point was studied with an NMR spectrometer, making the purchase central to teaching students how scientists analyze molecules. Such research helps K students gain valuable experience in their career paths and see how research applies to the real world.
“Pretty much every principle from quantum physics can now be applied in an NMR experiment and used to analyze structure,” Slough said. “When our current (spectrometer) was built around 1995, computer networking was just being implemented on a large scale. Twenty years later, scientists and students have come to demand more versatility.” With this new instrument, K students will study and collaborate with other students and research associates on campus and at their study abroad sites around the world.
Slough said essentially all biology and chemistry majors will have opportunities to use this new spectrometer. “K, in particular, emphasizes hands-on experiential learning, and this instrument will greatly enhance this in the chemical sciences,” he said.
The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation was established for religious, charitable, scientific, literary or educational purposes for the public benefaction of the inhabitants of the City of Midland and of the people of the State of Michigan. K’s Dow Science Center, completed in 1992, is named in recognition of a generous grant from The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation.