University of Texas at Dallas senior chemistry major Sheel Dodani of Plano, Texas, won the $1,000 second-place award in the inaugural Frank and Sara McKnight Prize in Undergraduate Chemistry competition conducted by The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.
Dodani’s award-winning work was titled “The Synthesis and Properties of Tunable Redox-Active para Wurster’s Crowns.” Her project involved the creation of a molecular “toolbox” that allows for the sensing and capture of metal ions, including environmentally harmful ions such as mercury, arsenic, cadmium and lead.
The McKnight Prize was instituted by Dr. Steven McKnight, chairman of UT Southwestern’s Department of Biochemistry, in honor of his parents. It is intended to promote undergraduate research in chemistry through recognition of outstanding accomplishment.
The $2,000 first-place award went to Livia Vastag, of Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vt. Third place and $500 went to Valeriy Shubinets of the University of Chicago. More than 100 undergraduates representing 85 universities and colleges from 28 states took part in the competition.
Twelve finalists traveled to New Braunfels, Texas, in mid-November for the UT Southwestern Biochemistry Department’s annual retreat to give poster presentations on their work. Winners were chosen both for the significance of their work and the quality of their presentations.