National Science Foundation
Interagency Program Supports Research Teams from the University of the Virgin Islands to Develop More Efficient Separation Techniques

The Faculty and Student Team (FaST) program is part of a memorandum of understanding between the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy (DOE) that provides support for faculty and students to perform research at DOE laboratories during the summer. With support from the Historically Black Colleges and Universities-Undergraduate Program (HBCU-UP), University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) faculty and student teams have worked at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory for the past five years. The scientific work being conducted is a subset of a larger effort to develop automated radiochemical methods. Current methods for separating and concentrating analytes for detection often involve complex wet chemical methods. The complexity of these separation schemes leads to relatively long sample preparation time, and automating such methods can be intricate. This is especially true for the separation of trivalent actinides. Sample preparation time and ease of automation can be greatly improved by using separation media that are highly specific for the analyte of interest. The FaST researchers have synthesized new, modified Kläui ligands as part of past work and will continue to work toward attaching the ligands to a solid-based polymer support to study the efficacy of these new materials in the binding of lanthanide and actinide ions.

One team has published results in a peer-reviewed journal (G. J. Lumetta, D. W. Wester, B. K. McNamara, T. L. Hubler, S. L. Latesky, C. C. Martyr, and K. N. Richards, “A New Extraction Chromatography Resin Containing Kläui Ligands for Application in Actinide Separations,” Solvent Extr. Ion Exch., 2004, 22(6), 947-960).  In addition, the collaborations have led to a chapter published in the ACS Symposium Series (G.J. Lumetta, B.K. McNamara, T.L. Hubler, D.W. Wester, J Li, S.L. Latesky; “Potential Applications of Kläui Ligands in Actinide Separations” in Separations for the Nuclear Fuel Cycle in the 21st Century, Ed. by G.L. Lumetta, K. L. Nash, S. B. Clark and J.I. Friese, ACS Symposium Series, 933, 2006). Each of the teams have abstracts published in the DOE Journal of Undergraduate Research. The rewards for UVI students and faculty participating in these programs are enormous. Two past students, Cuthbert Martyr and Jennifer Greaux, have subsequently been awarded an ORAU Office of Civilian and Radioactive Waste Management (OCRWM) Fellowship and Cuthbert Martyr, was named a UNCF-Merck Fellow his last two years at UVI. A number of the past participants have gone on to graduate or professional school: Cuthbert Martyr (Purdue University), Jennifer Greaux (FIU University), Yakini Brandy (Howard University), and Gavin-Ajani Navarro (Columbia University 3/2 Engineering Program). Without the opportunities provided by the FaST program, these awards would not have been possible. Most importantly, the collaborations built as a result of the program have fostered ongoing research collaborations throughout the academic year at UVI.

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