Tyler Fuller ’18, Schuyler Lockwood ’16 and Assistant Professor of Chemistry Josh Newby explore what an individual molecule says about the system it inhabits, in their recent article “Structure and Spectroscopy of Furan: H2O Complexes,” which appears in the Journal of Physical Chemistry A.
In chemistry, a complex refers to a substance formed of simpler substances held together by weak forces. “It’s kind of like static cling, but for molecules,” says Newby. Fuller, Lockwood and Newby’s molecular research offers analyses of furan:water, complexes that allowed the authors to understand the complexities of simple molecules and how they contribute to the chemistry community’s “understanding of larger, more complicated systems.”
“Part of the intrigue of this type of system is the wide variety of interactions that can occur, including basic hydrogen bonding, π interactions, and van der Waals attractions,” they write in the article, referring in the last instance to the interaction between atoms or molecules named for the Dutch scientist who discovered them.
Newby explains that investigating weakly-bound complexes is important to chemistry as these interactions serve as the basis of many other chemical phenomena. “For example, many medical diagnostic tests are based on chemical interactions,” he says. “As chemists learn more about chemical interactions, they better understand things like disease detection, atmospheric pollution, and the chemical origins of life.”
As a student at HWS, Fuller double-majored in biochemistry and Spanish & Hispanic studies, served as a Student Trustee on the HWS Board of Trustees, was a member of the Druid Society and worked as an Emergency Medical Technician. Currently a first-year medical student at SUNY Upstate Medical University, Fuller plans to pursue a career in family medicine.
Lockwood was a chemistry major and environmental studies minor at HWS and was inducted to Phi Beta Kappa. He worked as a research assistant alongside Newby and helped construct the instrument that is used in the Newby research lab. Lockwood is now enrolled as a graduate student and serves as a research assistant in the Chemistry Department at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
Newby, who joined HWS in 2014, holds a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from Purdue University. He has published numerous articles in national publications about spectroscopy, education and astrochemistry. In 2015, he received the HWS Faculty Research Grant for his work, “Matrix isolation studies of flavor components and their weakly-bound clusters.” He is a member of the American Chemical Society.
Fuller, Lockwood, and Newby’s research was funded by Hobart and William Smith Colleges and supported by the Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment.