Chemistry lab among elite nationwide

Matt Zeller, research staff scientist, talks with a reporter after the ribbon was cut on the new X-Ray Diffraction Lab in Ward Beecher Hall.

Matt Zeller, research staff scientist, talks with a reporter after the ribbon was cut on the new X-Ray Diffraction Lab in Ward Beecher Hall.

Six weeks after a news conference on the first floor of Ward Beecher Hall to celebrate YSU’s first patent, university officials moved up stairs to the fifth floor to announce the opening of a new lab that puts YSU’s material analysis capabilities among the best in the country.

“The state-of-the-art equipment in this lab places our STEM College and Chemistry department among some of the elite science programs in the nation,” YSU President Jim Tressel said. “It is indicative of YSU’s continued evolution into a research university of growing prominence.”

Tressel was joined by U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, Chemistry department Chair Tim Wagner, Professor Allen Hunter, Matt Zeller, research staff scientist, and Chemistry student Jennifer Miller to cut the ribbon on the new X-Ray Diffraction Laboratory. The equipment was funded via a $475,000 competitive grant awarded by the National Science Foundation, the fifth largest for equipment of this kind by the NSF since 2000.

The lab is the latest step in the continued development of the YSU Center of Excellence in Materials Science and Engineering, which provides structural analysis of materials ranging from metals for improved automotive parts to organic materials for the discovery of new medicines.

“With this new equipment, our capacity to conduct materials diffraction analysis is certainly second to none in the state of Ohio,” Wagner said.

A diffractometer shines X-rays through samples, allowing researchers to see the atomic makeup of the material, Zeller said.

Cutting the ribbon on the new X-Ray Diffraction Laboratory on campus, from the left, are President Jim Tressel; Tim Wagner, chair, Chemistry; student Jennifer Miller; U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan; Chemistry Professor Allen Hunter; and Matthias Zeller, research staff scientist who directs the lab.

Cutting the ribbon on the new X-Ray Diffraction Laboratory on campus, from the left, are President Jim Tressel; Tim Wagner, chair, Chemistry; student Jennifer Miller; U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan; Chemistry Professor Allen Hunter; and Matthias Zeller, research staff scientist who directs the lab.

Hunter, principal investigator of the NSF grant, said YSU obtained its first diffractometer 20 years ago and has been steadily upgrading and expanding its equipment since. The latest grant allowed for the purchase and installation of two new diffractometers, to augment the three systems already on site.

He said the lab assists faculty and students at YSU in their collaborations with scientists and engineers from across the United States and around the world in their research into advanced materials. In the past dozen years, these collaborations have resulted in more than 500 peer-reviewed scholarly papers, several thousand professional presentations, additional research grants and many opportunities to support regional commercial partners.

“We have built, right here at YSU, a global reputation for cutting-edge facilities and advanced analysis on an array of materials,” Hunter said. “This has helped make our graduates exceptionally competitive when they enter the job market.”