Professor Jessica Lamb awarded thrice for catalysis research

MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (11/17/2022) - Department of Chemistry Assistant Professor Jessica Lamb has been recognized three times so far in 2022 for her catalysis research and impact as a non-tenured faculty member at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.

In May of this year, Lamb was awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant for her research on latent NHC organocatalysis by the Division of Chemistry’s Disciplinary Research Programs (CHE-DRP). The grant provides $500,000 over 3 years.  The public domain abstract for the project outlines Lamb’s research:

“With the support of the Chemical Structure, Dynamics, and Mechanisms B (CSDM-B) Program in the Division of Chemistry, Professor Jessica Lamb of the University of Minnesota is studying a new way to control chemical reactivity via catalysis. Catalysts are chemical compounds that enable more efficient syntheses of small molecules (e.g., pharmaceuticals) and polymeric materials (e.g., plastics). Because of their wide utility, N-heterocyclic carbenes (NHCs) are a particularly important class of catalysts that has garnered a lot of attention in the past few decades. NHCs are sensitive compounds that can degrade if exposed directly to air or moisture; therefore, small molecules can be used to hide, or “mask”, the NHC reactivity until heat or light is used to release the NHC catalyst at the desired time. Despite extensive work in this area, little is known about how changing the small molecule “mask” can tune the exact conditions under which the NHC will release. The Lamb group is exploring new mask structures that will be used to systematically study how changes in the mask will alter the catalytic behavior of the NHCs.

The work has broad implications for designing new releasable catalysts, catalyst recycling, and polymer synthesis in the future. The project lies at the intersection of catalysis, polymer, and physical organic chemistry and thus will provide excellent interdisciplinary training and education to the supported graduate and undergraduate students.”

Days after the Lamb Lab celebrated their second anniversary in July, Lamb herself was awarded the 3M Non-Tenured Faculty Award (NTFA). The 3M NTFA Program was created over twenty-five years ago by 3M's Technical Community in partnership with 3MGives to invest in individuals who will lead university teaching and research programs in the future. Recipients are nominated by 3M sponsors, and the award provides an unrestricted gift of $45,000 over 3 years to support the recipient’s research. The award intends to help promising faculty receive tenure and contribute to their academic field. On October 26th, Lamb gave a virtual talk titled “Latent organocatalysis from modular N-heterocyclic carbene-carbodiimide adducts” at the 3M NTFA symposium. 

In late October, Lamb’s research was recognized for a third time in the span of six months with an award from the American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund (ACS PRF). ACS PRF grants support new, fundamental research directly related to petroleum or fossil fuels. The award, which provides $110,000 over 2 years, will support a different application of the same system developed under the NSF grant Lamb received earlier in the year.

Learn more about Lamb’s research.