Chemistry department receives $290k grant


Josh Saxton

Dr. Kraig Wheeler, a professor of chemistry demonstrates an X-Ray machine in a chemistry lab in the physical science building on Thursday. The machine exposes crystals to X-Rays to determine molecular structure and crystal structure.

Sydney Edwards, Copy Editor

Eastern chemistry professor Kraig Wheeler was recently offered a three-year $290,000 grant from The National Science Foundation Research in Undergraduate Institutions Department of Materials Research.

Wheeler said he plans to use the grant to research molecular recognition.

The process of applying for the grant started over a year ago for Wheeler, when he completed his proposal, six months in the making.

After he submitted the proposal, it took another six months for him to hear back from the NSF.

Wheeler said he got involved with the NSF so he could apply for grants.

“The research we are involved in requires funds and support,” Wheeler said. “There aren’t a lot of options.”

Wheeler wrote the proposal on his own, and said he is using student help to conduct the research.

Amber Meyer, a junior and biology major, is one of the students that has been helping Wheeler with the research. Meyer said she was excited to hear about the grant.

“I worked in here this summer, and when Dr. Wheeler asked me to stay next summer I was like ‘yes’,” Meyer said.

Meyer said she got involved with the research after taking organic chemistry I and II. She was been able to learn a lot while working with Wheeler.

“(Wheeler) is easy to work with. I have learned a lot of research with him,” Meyer said. “It’s nice to get that one on one time.”

Wheeler is planning to publish the research for all to see. He is also going to be presenting the research at the spring American Chemical Society meeting in San Diego and The American Crystal Graphic Association in Denver.

Wheeler said that although the extra money from the grant is great, it is really about the students.

“It provides money to do research on campus,” Wheeler said. “It helps students realize their professional goals.”

According to Wheeler, the grant is a great benefit to the science department, and to Eastern itself.

Wheeler said the NSF-RUI grant opens the opportunity for EIU to make important contributions to science and the professional development of the students.

“Such support allows researchers at EIU to focus on scholarship activities and offer students opportunities they normally would not receive in a formal class setting,” he said.  “These students will be exposed to the discovery process of research as well as publishing their results in peer-reviewed journals and presentations at national conferences.”


Sydney Edwards can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]