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Clarkson University Grad Students Win Awards at American Crystallographic Association Conference

Two Clarkson University chemistry Ph.D. students collectively won three awards at the 66th annual meeting of the American Crystallographic Association (ACA).

ACADarpandeep Aulakh of Amritsar, India, and Juby Varghese of Staten Island, N.Y., presented research at the association's annual meeting this summer in Denver, Colo.

Working with Assistant Professor of Chemistry & Biomolecular Science Mario Wriedt, their research in the Functional Materials Design and X-Ray Diffraction Laboratory focuses on the design, synthesis and characterization of new metal-organic frameworks (MOFs). These materials advance the understanding of structure-property relationships and address concerns such as clean energy alternatives, the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and stimuli-responsive magnetic materials.

Aulakh received a travel award from ACA to attend the conference, where she presented her work on using MOFs as potential hosts for the nanostructuration of single molecule magnets (SMMs).

Her poster, "Metal Organic Frameworks as Platforms for the Controlled Nanostructuration of Single Molecule Magnets," highlighted her work done at Clarkson and as an intern at Argonne National Laboratory. She received the Pauling Poster Prize, consisting of $250 and a copy of a Linus Pauling book.

SMMs, which behave like traditional magnets, have garnered significant attention in the past few decades for their potential use in high density information storage devices. To make them usable for real world applications, however, they need to be organized in different dimensionality architectures to allow for read and write processes.

Her research shows MOFs -- with their characteristic well-ordered multidimensional cavities -- have the potential to act as excellent hosts to achieve a precise long-range assembly of SMMs for the fabrication of functional hybrid magnetic materials.

"The meeting provided a great opportunity to showcase my research and also get valuable critics from best crystallographers in the country," Aulakh said. "During poster sessions, I was able to meet a wide range of scientists from different facilities across the nation which allowed me to exchange my research ideas with them. In addition, I also came across the research currently trending in the field of crystallography, which definitely steered me in various directions in which I can expand my research."

Aulakh said this was her first national conference and she looks forward to attending the ACA meeting again next summer.

Varghese received the Journal of Chemical Crystallography Poster Prize for her presentation, "SCXRD Meets PXRD to Investigate Temperature Induced Polymorphism." The award included a choice of books from Springer's Journal of Chemical Crystallography.

Varghese's research focused on the synthesis and characterization of an MOF exhibiting a temperature controlled single-crystal to single-crystal polymorphic phase transition. The transition provides insight into structure property relationships based solely on structural parameters and stresses the importance of polymorphism screening which is not carried out in routine MOF studies.

"It was a great experience to attend the Annual Meeting of the American Crystallographic Association as a first year graduate student," she said. "I learned a great deal from the guest speakers in the field of crystallography as well as the workshops hosted by them. It was also a great honor to present our research alongside these experts."

Clarkson University educates the leaders of the global economy. One in five alumni already leads as an owner, CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. With its main campus located in Potsdam, N.Y., and additional graduate program and research facilities in the Capital Region and Beacon, New York, Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university with signature areas of academic excellence and research directed toward the world's pressing issues. Through more than 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, education, sciences and the health professions, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and innovation with enterprise.

Photo caption: From left to right, Clarkson University chemistry Ph.D. student Juby Varghese, Assistant Professor of Chemistry & Biomolecular Science Mario Wriedt, and chemistry Ph.D. student Darpan Aulakh. The students won a combined three awards at the American Crystallographic Association annual meeting.

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