The National Science Foundation has awarded Stetson University a $200,000 grant to develop a new chemistry and biochemistry curriculum centered around hands-on labs and research using a state-of-the-art 400 MHz nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectrometer.

Through the NSF’s Transforming Undergraduate Education in Science (TUES), Technology, Engineering and Mathematics program, Stetson will develop new ways to use NMR instrumentation in a broad range of chemistry courses. The new curriculum will then be made available for use by other colleges and universities nationwide.

“The award of this most competitive National Science Foundation grant is a significant recognition of Stetson’s excellence in cutting-edge natural science education,” said Dr. Elizabeth “Beth” Paul, provost and vice president for academic affairs at Stetson. “I commend the excellence and strong leadership of our chemistry faculty in this major accomplishment.”

“We’re very thrilled,” said Assistant Professor of Chemistry Dr. John T. York, the faculty member overseeing the project. “This is an extremely competitive national grant program, and our contribution will help to transform the way undergraduates study chemistry and biochemistry.”

Stetson will contribute $100,000 to the project. The new NMR spectrometer will be ordered this summer and installed this fall in Sage Hall, the primary teaching and research facility for the Natural Sciences at Stetson. Faculty will then begin to incorporate use of the NMR spectrometer into all chemistry and biochemistry courses – from beginner-level to advanced. The instrument will also be available for student and faculty research, an integral part of undergraduate education at Stetson.

Currently, about 300 students per year are enrolled in chemistry and biochemistry classes and labs from at least 12 different majors ranging from integrative health science to aquatic and marine biology. Thus, all students in the Natural Sciences at Stetson would gain experience in using this real-world research instrumentation, not just chemistry and biochemistry majors. The NMR spectrometer is the most powerful tool chemists have for the characterization and identification of chemical compounds.

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