Chemistry student gets prestigious research funding

A WMU chemistry student whose research focuses on building molecules that act as sensors that could detect the release of nerve gas agents has been awarded a  National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.

Ultimately, David Sellers' research could be used to help emergency responders in the event of a terrorist attack or chemical warfare or as a catalyst for certain organic reactions.

Sellers is the first WMU chemistry student to win the award, which will pay $42,000 a year for three years to further his research. The annual grant pays $12,000 for educational expenses and a $30,000 stipend.

He was chosen to received the research fellowship out of 2,000 applications submitted. There were 153 awarded in chemistry, of which five went to graduate students at Michigan universities.

He joined the WMU Department of Chemistry in 2011 to start his doctoral degree in the area of synthetic organic and supramolecular chemistry. Sellers works in the research lab of Dr. Elke Schoffers, WMU professor of chemistry.

Before joining the graduate program at WMU, Sellers earned his bachelor's degree at Spring Arbor University and then volunteered with Resource Development International-Cambodia for five months and then became an adjunct faculty member at Spring Arbor.

Sellers has been interested in science from a very early age and for him chemistry stands out among the sciences.

"It's a very exciting field, partly because it's at the meeting point of almost all of the scientific disciplines," he says. "So it's an exciting field to be in, and I really like that interplay, especially between biology and chemistry."

Writer: Kathy Jennings, Second Wave Media
Source: Mark Schwerin, Western Michigan University
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