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Student to Study Alongside Chemistry Professor in Switzerland

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This fall, junior chemistry and math major Nancy Wells, of Perry, Ohio, will be traveling with assistant professor of Chemistry James Kercher to the Swiss Light Source in Zurich, Switzerland for one week.

There, Wells will be doing further research on four chemicals using the TPEPICO (photoelectron–photoion coincidence) technique. Through this, she hopes to find a molecule that can decrease in reaction rate, which is atypical; usually the rate-energy relationship is increasing.

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Russell ’12 poses in the Swiss Light Source in Zurich, Switzerland. She traveled there in 2011 with Professor Kercher.

Wells will be the fifth Hiram student traveling to the Swiss Light Source on a grant funded from the American Chemical Society. Kercher took Eileen Russell ’12 and Mike Mastromatteo ’11 in 2011 and David Klecyngier ’13 and Daniel Fakhoury ’13 in 2012.

“What I like about the project is that it brings all four types of physical chemistry together,” Kercher said. “The trip to Switzerland is nice because the students see that their liberal arts education has prepared them for big time science.”

From a student’s perspective, Russell, who traveled two years ago, reinforced Kercher’s feelings on the trip.

“My biggest take away from this project was that undergraduates—even those at small, liberal arts colleges—have the ability to participate in significant research and contribute to the advancement of science,” she said.

Wells is very excited about the opportunity. She and Kercher will leave between the end of October and the beginning of November.

“If I could leave for Switzerland today I would; however, I am still learning everything so it’s best I be patient,” Wells said.

For several Hiram alumni, this trip has developed into more than just a class project. The data that was collected by Russell and Mastromatteo and analyzed with the help of Elvis Cudjoe ’12, has recently been published in the Journal of Physical Chemistry: From Iron Pentacarbonyl to the Iron Ion by Imaging Photoelectron Photoion Coincidence.

Kercher is also an author of this paper, along with Balint Sztaray of the University of the Pacific and beamline scientist Andras Bodi of the Paul Scherrer Institut.

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