Organic and Inorganic Chemical Synthesis - Sustainable Chemistry

chemical reaction.

Are you looking to get involved in a chemistry lab? Join our team of motivated students and design and prepare new catalysts that use sustainable, earth abundant transition metals.

Project is Not Currently Available

This project has reached full capacity for the current term. Please check back next semester for updates.

Project description

Catalysts are molecules that help make reactions more efficient. A special class of catalysts are called "transition-metal" catalysts, using atoms derived from the middle part of the periodic table. However, these transition-metal catalysts are often made from rare and toxic transition metals like palladium or ruthenium. Therefore, we use chemical synthesis to make new catalysts that contain earth-abundant and biologically essential transition metals. Some of this work relies on organic chemistry, but we are inorganic chemists whose main interests are in the properties that are unique to certain elements. Exploring this new and exciting chemistry is the core of our efforts and we are looking for motivated undergraduates to join us!

Project outcome

Students will learn skills in chemical synthesis. These are important for students seeking to work in the chemical industry, especially those who might be interested in pursuing Master's or PhD level chemical education after graduation. Projects that are successful will result in publication in scientific journals, and students will be given opportunities to apply for funding and present their research at conferences.

Project details

Timing, eligibility and other details
Length of commitment Depends on student interest
Start time Fall, Spring, Summer
In-person, remote, or hybrid?
Level of collaboration Varies
Benefits Academic credit; some summer salary opportunities; ample outreach opportunities for pre-med students
Who is eligible Enrollment in or completion of college organic chemistry course
Goldwater and the National Science Foundation

Students participating in this project might be interested in and eligible for the Goldwater Scholarship and the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. Connect with the Office of Fellowships and Scholarships to learn more.

Project mentor

David Lacy

Assistant Professor


657 Natural Sciences Complex

Phone: (716) 645-4114


Start the project

  1. Email the project mentor using the contact information above to express your interest and get approval to work on the project. (Here are helpful tips on how to contact a project mentor.)
  2. After you receive approval from the mentor to start this project, click the button to start the digital badge. (Learn more about ELN's digital badge options.) 

Preparation activities

Once you begin the digital badge series, you will have access to all the necessary activities and instructions. Your mentor has indicated they would like you to also complete the specific preparation activities below. Please reference this when you get to Step 2 of the Preparation Phase. 

  • Meet with the faculty mentor to establish customized preparation activities for individual students