W&J alumnus and professor publish study in international journal

Created: November 20, 2017
Last Updated: January 14, 2020

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WASHINGTON, PA (Nov. 20, 2017)—A recent study completed by Washington & Jefferson College alumnus James Aldridge ’15 and Assistant Professor of Chemistry Deborah Polvani, Ph.D., is now published in a chemistry journal.

During James’s time at W&J, he and Dr. Polvani synthesized 33 new compounds through solid-state techniques during two independent study courses. The pair teamed up with Dr. Jennifer Aitken of the Duquesne University chemistry department and Duquesne graduate students to use instruments on Duquesne’s campus to measure properties of the compounds. Dr. Polvani and James received a beam-time grant for further high-resolution sample characterization at Argonne National Laboratory.  They were able to describe the structure of the new compounds precisely and describe their optical properties and write up their findings for an article that recently appeared in the Journal of Solid State Chemistry.

“I was delighted to learn about the publication,” Dr. Polvani said. “It’s very special when undergrads have such success with a project that it culminates in publication.”

The study’s success was a happy surprise for James.

“I was really excited. I didn’t think that I would get something published for something I did in undergrad,” he said. “It was obviously something that, if it all went well, it would have the possibility of being published, and we hoped for that outcome. Normally in research and development, you try a hundred different things and it doesn’t work, but this time it worked.”

Through the process, James was able to present his findings at a National American Chemical Society conference in Denver, Co., building communication skills, as well as bolstering his confidence in his scientific pursuits. The knowledge he gained during the independent study, he said, helped him in his first job after graduation as a research and development chemist, and continues to play a role in his career.

Dr. Polvani encourages all W&J students to take advantage of research opportunities with faculty on independent study projects.

“You get to see how to collaborate with other people and gain skills outside of the lab or classroom, which is valuable for all students,” she said.

Find the article in the Journal of Solid State Chemistry here.

About Washington & Jefferson College

Washington & Jefferson College, located in Washington, Pa., is a selective liberal arts college founded in 1781. Committed to providing each of its students with the highest-quality undergraduate education available, W&J offers a traditional arts and sciences curriculum emphasizing interdisciplinary study and independent study work. For more information about W&J, visit www.washjeff.edu, or call 888-W-AND-JAY.

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