The Fletcher Jones Foundation awarded the latest grant for the University’s natural sciences division, a much-needed supplement of $236,000 for the division’s project, Innovation for a New Generation.
More specifically, the grant will supply the remaining funds needed to buy the NMR (nuclear microscope resonance) and pay for its site preparation and employ a technician for the instrument. The primary funds for the half-million dollar instrument came from the W.M. Keck Foundation grant given to the University in July.
“The Keck grant was a big deal because it’s usually only given to bigger schools,” said Iraj Parchemazad, professor of chemistry. “This grant allowed us to get additional funding from the Fletcher Jones Foundation.”
The NMR is helping the natural sciences division fulfill the third part of its plan for the Innovation for a New Generation project.
Twenty years ago, when Biology and Biochemistry Professor Jay Jones first came to the University of La Verne, he had one initial thought: the school had great potential for making a long term contribution to the world.
He knew that the growth of the University and of students pursuing science-related fields would depend on the division’s ability to pull students into the department.
He began writing grants for the project that would eventually lead to the University’s latest prize, the NMR.
Inspired by students, Innovation for a New Generation has three parts.
“Today, fewer and fewer students are going into the sciences. As a result, the U.S. is losing its lead on science,” Jones said.
Innovation for a New Generation’s three points of focus all stem from ULV’s mission statement, Jones said. It aims to enhance recruitment of students into the science field and make ULV known as a place of esteemed learning, to create a learning environment where students could actively engage in a quality education and to provide first-class instruments for hands-on use by the students.
Jones said today’s electronic distractions such as televisions and cell phones are a main reason for students’ short attention spans.
“It’s like riding in a car at 70 miles per hour,” Jones said. “When you stop the car and listen to the crickets, you can’t hear them. Our idea is to make those crickets really loud.”
The Fletcher Jones and other grants awarded to the division have made it possible to invest in equipment and facilities that allow more focused learning environments such as the lab in Miller 156 and advanced instruments such as the NMR.
The NMR is an instrument that works as a very strong, sophisticated magnet called a 9.7 Tesla magnet that uses liquid helium and magnesium to cool itself down.
Although the magnet does not necessarily break the molecules apart, it allows the nuclei of the molecule to spin on a single axis.
The entire process of the NMR gives information about the different environments surrounding the individual nuclei of the molecule. The result: the structure of the molecule is revealed.
Parchemazad, who worked with Bruker Instruments to develop a probe that allows the user to use real time photochemistry, is an expert on the NMR. In this process, a light guide included with the probe lights up a sample in the NMR, allowing scientists to observe additional light induced reactions.
“Because this instrument has a very strong magnet,” Parchamazad said, “its room needs temperature and humidity control.
“It needs clean air and other very specific operating conditions,” he added.
The NMR will be housed in Founders 14, which according to Parchamazad, is the only room big enough and with a high enough ceiling in the department to house the instrument.
“We had to make sure that other devices wouldn’t be affected by the magnet,” Jones said.
The NMR is scheduled to arrive in mid-January.
Stephanie Duarte can be reached at email@example.com.