Poul Petersen receives NSF Career Award

Poul Petersen

Poul B. Petersen, assistant professor of chemistry and chemical biology, has received a National Science Foundation Early Career Development Award, given periodically to junior faculty members to fund specific research projects. The grants also support educational or outreach programs related to the scientists' research.

Peterson's award provides $650,000 over five years to study the ultrafast dynamics of interfacial water. Interfacial water plays important roles in many processes, ranging from chemical reactions on atmospheric cloud droplets and aerosols, and biological processes at membranes and at the surfaces of proteins and nucleotides, to technical applications such as fuel cells and heterogeneous catalysis.

According to Petersen, scientists do not have a good understanding of the structure or the dynamics of interfacial water. He is developing new nonlinear optical spectroscopic methods to gain a detailed understanding of water at surfaces.

As part of the educational component of the award, Petersen will use optics and microscopy to engage middle and high school students and teachers about science.

Linda B. Glaser is a staff writer for the College of Arts and Science.