Learning in Action: A Visit to BGSU’s Center for Photochemical Sciences

Northwest State Community College adheres to a philosophy that STEM-education is best accomplished by exposing its students to practitioners. As part of this, NSCC seeks to have its science students acquainted with the workings of a research university. To this end, students from Dr. Tom Carr’s general chemistry class have made a fieldtrip to Bowling Green State University’s Center for Photochemical Sciences on Friday, April 7, 2017.

Established in 1985, the Center has had a distinguished history. For example, a large portion of the seminal work leading to 3-D printing has been done at the Center. Today, it continues to be a multi-disciplinary undertaking that features research, instruction, and applications in the broad discipline of light-initiated chemical reactions.

While there, NSCC students were introduced to the cutting-edge work of highly-engaged faculty members. One such was Dr. Alexander Tarnovsky, who specializes in ultrafast study of chemical reactions. He demonstrated powerful lasers needed for this work. Another was Dr. Peter Lu, who works in protein behavior characterization.

The Center’s Dr. Alexis Ostrowski (center) conducts a hands-on experiment preparing a metallopolymer with NSCC chemistry students.

The Center’s Dr. Alexis Ostrowski (center) conducts a hands-on experiment preparing a metallopolymer with NSCC chemistry students.

A third was Dr. Alexis Ostrowski, whose work encompasses areas like tissue engineering and drug delivery. She provided a hands-on activity where NSCC students made “beads” via the interaction of an iron salt and a water-soluble polymer. This and other light-responsive metallopolymer materials have mechanical properties that may lead to novel medical applications.

Overall, NSCC’s chemistry students became acquainted with the Center’s activities, graduate students and its Director, Dr. Malcolm Forbes. They left with an expanded understanding of the expression, “light duty.”

Special thanks to Dr. Tom Carr, NSCC faculty member, for submitting this article.