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Goldwater Scholar Daniel Ruddy ’03 (Dunmore, Pa.) is conducting research that may bring a rainbow of color to the number pads of digital watches and calculators.

Awarded for academic merit, the Goldwater is the premier undergraduate award of its type in the fields of mathematics, science, and engineering. Ruddy was among 309 honorees from the 50 United States and Puerto Rico selected from a pool of 1,155 nominated sophomores and juniors.

He is working under the guidance of Chip Nataro, assistant professor of chemistry, to create a germanium polymer that will serve as a light-emitting diode. LED’s are typically used in digital watches and calculators, and Ruddy says synthesis of the polymer could lead to number pads in new colors.

Nataro received a $35,000 grant this year from the Petroleum Research Fund administered by American Chemical Society to continue research with students that will help the chemical community know when certain compounds are ideal to use without having to test them. He has mentored several Lafayette students who have coauthored papers with him in peer-reviewed publications, and a dozen Lafayette students who have presented their research at academic conferences, including national and regional meetings of the American Chemical Society and the Intercollegiate Student Chemists’ Convention.

Ruddy, a chemistry major, who has completed experimental work in analytical, organic, and inorganic chemistry, says this research is a continuation of a project he began last summer in the National Science Foundation’s Research Experience for Undergraduates program.

“I am excited about this research because I will be able to conduct some of the experiments that I have read about,” he says. “Since the project is interdisciplinary, it is allowing me to read many different papers and be exposed to a number of research topics that will help me prepare for graduate school.”

Nataro says that Ruddy is very persistent and that “the project is being conducted as a result of Dan’s motivation.”

“Dan has learned a number of new laboratory techniques,” he adds. “He is actively reading literature in the field, and this research has helped him decide on a path for graduate school.”

“I am happy to be working with Dr. Nataro,” says Ruddy, a math minor. “There is no question that he is highly qualified and caring. He agreed to expand his lab work to fit my interests and has made sure we have everything needed to complete the project.

“Lafayette is a great environment for this type of research. I have formed relationships with faculty members and feel comfortable approaching these professors to discuss my work and ask for advice.”

During the course of his Lafayette career, Ruddy has participated in four EXCEL Scholars projects. He collaborated with Joseph Sherma, professor emeritus of chemistry, to determine if ingredient levels in over-the-counter medications corresponded with amounts stated on package labels. By using high-performance thin-layer chromatography, Ruddy confirmed that the ingredient levels in labels were 95 to 105 percent of the true amount in the drug. In EXCEL, students work closely with faculty on research while earning a stipend.

Ruddy also explored the reactions of two types of organic compounds in a special group of catalysts with William H. Miles, associate professor of chemistry; studied surface growth kinetics with Kenneth Haug, assistant professor of chemistry; and examined chromium derivatives with Nataro.

He traveled to Italy with 23 other Lafayette students from May 23 to June 14 to take a special Lafayette course, Florence: Birthplace of the Renaissance.

A peer tutor, Ruddy serves as an officer in American Chemical Society and participates in intramural sports.

Categorized in: Academic News