December 6, 2023

Sharpless Receives Distinguished Research Award

Charlie Sharpless had a problem to solve. He was finishing his post-doctoral fellowship and wasn’t quite sure where to go next. He loved teaching and conducting research, but there were few positions at large research universities where he could mix these two elements. But with the University of Mary Washington, he found the perfect chemistry. As a professor and chair of the Department of Chemistry, Sharpless combines equal parts teaching, advising and research to make new discoveries in environmental chemistry and educate the next generation of scientists and industry leaders. Now he is being honored with the Distinguished Research Award by the Virginia section of the American Chemical Society at its annual award ceremony in Richmond this evening, on Thursday, March 21. Read more.  

Sharpless and Laszakovits Paper Best of 2017

A paper published last year by chemistry professor and chair Charlie Sharpless, former student Julie Laszakovits and co-workers at the University of St. Thomas has been named one of the four best papers of 2017 by the editors of the American Chemical Society (ACS) journal, Environmental Science & Technology Letters.

Authors of the award-winning paper, UMW graduate Julie Laszakovits, and Chemistry Professor and Chair Charlie Sharpless at the 2016 spring meeting of the ACS in San Diego.

Authors of the award-winning paper, UMW graduate Julie Laszakovits and Chemistry Professor and Chair Charlie Sharpless, at the 2016 spring meeting of the ACS in San Diego.

The announcement of the award was made at the 255th annual meeting of the ACS in New Orleans in March and in a recent editorial. The paper, which you can read here, developed an approach to correcting errors in published methods for measuring sunlight intensity with chemical systems.

Awards for Best Papers are based on “the quality of the science, the impact of the findings, and the overall level of interest of our readers based on many factors, including downloads, news stories, [and] citations.”

Julie Lazsakovits graduated from UMW in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Environmental Engineering at the Ohio State University.

Professor Sharpless Publishes Articles

Chemistry Professor Charles Sharpless is the co-author of two recently published articles. The first, entitled “Photooxidation-induced changes in optical, electrochemical, and photochemical properties of humic substances,” was co-authored with colleagues from U.C. Berkeley and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich) and appears in the current issue of the American Chemical Society journal, Environmental Science & Technology. A research article, it focuses on how prolonged exposure to solar radiation alters the photochemical and electrochemical properties of natural dissolved organic matter, ubiquitous brown “stuff” in surface waters that participates in many aspects of environmental aquatic chemistry. The second article, entitled “The importance of charge-transfer interactions in determining chromophoric dissolved organic matter (CDOM) optical and photochemical properties,” was co-authored with Professor Neil Blough (Chemistry, U. MD College Park). This was an invited review for the Royal Society of Chemistry’s journal, Environmental Sciences: Processes and Impacts, formerly The Journal of Environmental Modeling. The review, containing 247 references, deals with the optical and photochemical properties of natural dissolved organic matter, how those properties are related, and the relevance of these relationships for current research in environmental photochemistry. The article is currently in advance electronic format and will be published later this year in a specially-themed journal issue devoted to aquatic photochemical processes.

Charlie Sharpless Receives NSF Grant to Study Fate of Marine Oil Spills

Recent research shows that oil in marine systems ages in ways inconsistent with current models.  Specifically, the hydrocarbon fraction has long been assumed to get oxidized, become more water soluble, and then biologically or abiotically degrade, eventually to CO2.  Researchers at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution have discovered that oxidized hydrocarbons actually constitute a sizable portion of the recalcitrant tar that remains at the late stages of a spill.   This process is presumably important in the weathering of natural oil seeps as well, which constitute the majority of oceanic oil.  Charlie and colleagues at Woods Hole and the University of California, Santa Barbara have received funding from the National Science Foundation, Division of Chemical Oceanography to study the extent to which photochemical and microbial processes drive this oxidation process.  The project, entitled “Oxygenation of Hydrocarbons in the Ocean” is a three-year study that will provide opportunities for UMW students to travel to and study at WHOI and UCSB as well as participate in a cruise in the Gulf  of Mexico to sample oil at various stages of weathering.