National Science Foundation helps UW-Whitewater create global scientists

May 26, 2011

Hephzibah KumpatyFour undergraduates at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater will take a big step this summer toward the world of international science.

They'll travel to India to conduct research under a National Science Foundation grant intended to develop global scientists and engineers.

The $146,302 grant was awarded to Hephzibah Kumpaty, associate professor of chemistry at UW-Whitewater, who will take twelve students on the research trip over three summers.

"Our students will be able to witness how concepts are converted into commercial products," she said. "They'll see how international scientists work and think and collaborate with others in a global market."

Students will conduct collaborative research with international teams at the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology, a prestigious public institution in Hyderabad, India. They'll gain hands-on experience with cutting-edge research in various applications of chemical syntheses.

Kumpaty, whose expertise is in synthetic and medicinal chemistry, said the UW-Whitewater students also will learn about the institute's global contract research for companies that include the U.S. giants Dow Chemical, DuPont Merck Pharmaceutical and Colgate-Palmolive.

Students will form international friendships that may open doors for collaboration and networking as they grow into their careers, whether they choose graduate school or industry work, Kumpaty said.

"They can use this experience and very quickly move into leadership positions in a global society," she said.

Students, who will be named soon, will leave in early July and return in mid-August. They'll typically be chemistry and biology students between their junior and senior years who have conducted preliminary research on campus and will continue their work after returning from India.

Catherine Chan, an associate professor of biological sciences at UW-Whitewater, is also a mentor to students working under the grant.

The trip will be a homecoming of sorts for Kumpaty, who spent six months at the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology completing research for her master's degree in 1990. She also made a site visit to the institute last summer to develop the proposal.

She looks forward to returning with UW-Whitewater students, whose experiences will extend beyond their labs to include the rich culture and history of Hyderabad, known as India's Pearl City for its historic market in pearls and precious stones.

The project is called "International Research Experiences for Students: U.S.-India Collaborative Research in Complex Natural Product Synthesis with Bio, Nano and Green Applications at the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology, Hyderabad."


Sara Kuhl