May 10, 2007

Student wins Fulbright Scholar Program award

by Tim Crosby


CARBONDALE, Ill. — A graduate student in the College of Science at Southern Illinois University Carbondale plans to pursue her studies in Europe this fall as a winner of a Fulbright Scholar Program award.

Kathleen “Kassie” Chaffee, a graduate student in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry from Belleville, previously won a graduate dean’s fellowship award in 2005. She also worked on a National Science Foundation-funded grant.

While at SIUC, Chaffee’s focused on preparing "host-guest" inclusion complexes aligned in liquid-crystalline matrices and subsequently characterizing supramolecular systems using various nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopic techniques. The work could lead to a host of new applications, including synthetic enzymes, chemical separations, drug delivery, and molecular sensing/recognition.

Chaffee said she is excited about her trip to Lyon, France, where she will study with Jean-Pierre Dutasta, a leading expert in cryptophane synthesis and inclusion-complex chemistry. Her background in synthetics will support Dutasta’s team and will allow Chaffee to obtain different types of cryptophanes needed to continue her research back in the United States.

“Applying for a Fulbright was a perfect solution. The Fulbright allows for me to bring my husband —David Musser — so we will be moving to France in the fall and staying for eight to nine months. By the time we get back to the U.S. in May, I will be defending my dissertation,” she said.

Chaffee has worked closely with Boyd M. Goodson, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry at SIUC. Goodson said Chaffee is an excellent choice for the honor, calling her “arguably one of our department’s strongest young graduate students over the last several years.”

Goodson described how he marveled at Chaffee’s accomplishments in his laboratory, where she succeeded in producing cryptophane-A, the substance Goodson’s research group uses in its NMR research.

“She has since started to use her own samples in her NMR experiments,” Goodson said. “While before I had no hard expectations regarding this new synthetic endeavor, I certainly will not underestimate her again.”

“Everyone who knows Kassie would tell you that she has a great sense of humor and is generally a lot of fun to be around — particularly in the lab.”

The Fulbright program, named for former U.S. Sen. J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, provides grants for university faculty to conduct research and lecture worldwide. Chaffee is one about 800 such scholars throughout the country who will travel to about 150 countries during the next 12 months as the program strives to promote mutual understanding between the United States and other countries.