Chemistry Professor Part Of $10.8 Million NIH Grant

Randy Hall, Lillian L.Y. Wang Yin, Ph.D. Endowed Professor of Chemistry in the School of Health and Natural Sciences, is part of a $10.8 million award from the National Institutes of Health focused on protecting communities from dangerous pollution from hazardous waste sites.

Hall is a subcontractor on the five-year grant awarded to an interdisciplinary team at Louisiana State University (LSU) to continue and expand their work, which originally began in 2009 through the university’s Superfund Research Program. The Hall lab will receive about $100,000 from the grant.

The LSU Superfund Research Program seeks to understand the formation of toxins as the result of the combustion process, such as incineration. Hall is part of a team of chemists and physicists studying models for toxin precursors in order to characterize the mechanism for toxin formation.

“We perform computer calculations that can be compared to experimental observations by the LSU team,” Hall says. “Our calculations allow the development of a microscopic understanding of the precursor formation process with the goal of suggesting ways in which to prevent toxin formation.”

A large part of the LSU Superfund Research Program is educating future scientists and engineers. The grant will help pay for three Dominican undergraduate research students to work on the project during the academic year at Dominican, as well as work at LSU during the summer.

Hall joined the Department of Natural Sciences and Mathematics in 2012 as Dominican's first Endowed Professor holding the position of the Dr. Lillian L.Y. Wang Yin Endowed Professor in Chemistry. He holds a Ph.D. in Theoretical Chemical Physics from Columbia University.
Hall’s research interests include the role of metal oxide nanoparticles in the formation of environmental toxins; the use of molecular probes in cancer detection; the properties of small gold nanoparticles with potential as catalysts and sensors, the effect glycosylation of the COX-2 enzyme has on the production of prostaglandins, and the composition of the leachate from compost.

Last year, the National Science Foundation (NSF) named Hall a “Campus Champion” for the XSEDE (Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment) supercomputing network. As Campus Champion, Hall assists the Dominican community with access to supercomputing resources on the XSEDE network. In the past three years, Hall has involved 11 of his research students in work using the Comet computer.

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