NSF Grant to enhance chem & bio faculty and student research


SUNY Potsdam Assistant Professor of Chemistry Dr. Fadi Bou-Abdallah recently was awarded $126,525 from the National Science Foundation for a project titled “MRI: Acquisition of an Isothermal Titration Calorimeter” that will bring cutting-edge technology to SUNY Potsdam, Clarkson University and St. Lawrence University.

This grant award will focus on enhancing existing undergraduate research programs in SUNY Potsdam’s Departments of Chemistry and Biology, helping ongoing efforts to incorporate advanced technologies into the science curriculum and exposing students to state-of-the-art techniques and allow them to learn cutting-edge experimental methods that are commonly used in the studies of many chemical and biochemical reactions.

It will also improve the quality of education by bridging existing gaps between coursework and laboratory work and increase interdepartmental and cross-institutional collaborations between chemistry, biology and biomolecular science faculty from SUNY Potsdam and Clarkson and St. Lawrence Universities.

The major research instrumentation grant seeks to purchase a state-of-the-art research instrument to perform isothermal titration calorimetry, or ITC.

“ITC is a very sensitive thermodynamic technique that is rapidly becoming the method of choice to characterize binding interactions,” said Dr. Bou-Abdallah. “It measures directly the heat absorbed or released during a binding reaction and is considered as the preferred technique in biology, biophysics, biochemistry and chemistry labs due to accuracy, time required to run an experiment and amount of sample needed, among other reasons.”

Dr. Bou-Abdallah has extensive experience with this type of technique and has published a number of papers on metal-ions, ligands and macromolecules interactions.

A number of faculty from SUNY Potsdam (Dr. Maria R. Hepel and Dr. Robert G. Ewy) and nearby Clarkson University (Dr. E. Silvana Andreescu and Dr. Edward Moczydlowski) and St. Lawrence University (Dr. Samantha Glazier) and their students will benefit from this instrument and use it in their teaching and research programs.

“Interestingly, there is no ITC available to students or faculty at any of the four local colleges” said Dr. Bou-Abdallah. “The closest campus housing an isothermal titration calorimeter is about 200 miles away at Cornell University in Ithaca.

“The acquisition of an ITC is thus crucial and will greatly benefit these institutions and others in the area, enhancing undergraduate and graduate education and expanding the research capabilities of several faculty members,” he noted.  

Dr. Bou-Abdallah noted the grant award will help respond to a national need to educate and better prepare students to enter the workforce and graduate or professional schools by exposing them to the latest technologies, continuing to train them on state-of-the art instruments and enhancing their educational and research experiences.

As part of the outreach activities of the award, plans are being implemented to extend current efforts and maintain interaction with the K-12 community and community colleges and organize more site visits for high school students and teachers to get them acquainted with this universal technique.

Dr. Fadi Bou-Abdallah
(315) 267-2268 | bouabdf@potsdam.edu