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Trustee Scholar Carina Fritsche ’07 (Columbia, Mo.) is joining James K. Ferri, assistant professor of chemical engineering at Lafayette, for a two-month research experience this summer at the Max Planck Institute for Colloids and Interface Science in Golm-Potsdam, Germany, near Berlin.

Fritsche, who is visiting June 4-Aug. 4, is pursuing a B.S. chemical engineering degree and an A.B. with a major in international studies. Her work follows up on the honors thesis conducted by Gabriella Engelhart ’05 (York, Pa.), who graduated from Lafayette with honors in chemical engineering and will begin pursuing a Ph.D. in chemical engineering at Carnegie Mellon this fall. A recipient of the national Goldwater and Udall Scholarships, as well as a three-year Graduate Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation, Engelhart conducted research with Ferri at the institute in January.

Ferri received a fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation that is supporting 18 months of research at the institute over three years. His work with Fritsche is part of a joint effort investigating the assembly of biocompatible nanoparticle suprastructures. The project is in the field of nanotechnology, in which research is conducted and components are constructed on the molecular level.

Ferri’s work focuses on the materials science of nano-scale films synthesized using layer-by-layer adsorption of oppositely charged polymers. These new materials are finding application as sustained drug delivery vehicles; as photonic crystals used in telecommunications, detector technologies, and lasers; and in biotechnology and chemical catalyst areas. His research is aimed at characterizing the kinetics of the self-assembly process in molecules and the mechanical properties of these thin films under dynamic deformation conditions.

Fritsche and Ferri are focusing on the synthesis and characterization of nanocomposite particles via emulsion polymerization and the self-assembly of microgels from these nanoparticles for controlled release of therapeutic agents.

Ferri and Tina Huang, assistant professor of chemistry at Lafayette, received a $210,549 National Science Foundation grant that is enhancing undergraduate research and teaching capabilities in nanotechnology at Lafayette.

Fritsche spent the spring semester with a dozen other Lafayette students at International University Bremen (IUB) in Germany through a study abroad program led by Rado Pribic, Edwin Williams Professor of Languages and chair of the international affairs and Russian and Eastern European studies programs.

Last fall, she participated in the McKelvy House Scholars Program, which brings together Lafayette students with a wide range of majors and interests to reside in a historic off-campus house and share in intellectual and social activities. She will rejoin the program this fall.

Before traveling to Germany, her other extra-curricular activities included serving on the executive boards of Lafayette Environmental Awareness and Protection and the Outdoors Club; competing on the Ultimate Frisbee team; playing French horn in the Pep Band, Concert Band, and Small Wind Ensembles; serving as an editor for The Reactor, the newsletter of the student chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, of which she is a member; tutoring chemistry and calculus students through the Academic Resource Center; and actively participating in German Club and Students for Social Justice.

Selected from among Lafayette’s top applicants, Trustee Scholars like Fritsche have distinguished themselves through exceptional academic achievement in high school. They receive from Lafayette an annual minimum scholarship of $7,500 ($8,000 effective with the Class of 2009) or a grant in the full amount of their demonstrated need if the need is more than $7,500.

Ferri joined the chemical engineering department in January 2001. His teaching areas are momentum, heat, and mass transfer, separations processes, and laboratory applications. He also teaches an advanced elective in colloid and interface science. His research interests are a combination of interfacial phenomena, bioengineering, and materials science. Both his undergraduate and graduate education were completed at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md.

Categorized in: Academic News