Wartburg College has received a $150,400 grant from the Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust for an instrument that will help students analyze molecular structures.

The Carver Trust grant will support the purchase of a 90mMHz Eft FT nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer, which provides structural information about atoms.

“It will give students a chance to see how chemists go about determining the structure of molecules prepared in the laboratory,” said Dr. Leilani Zart, assistant professor of chemistry.

As an example, she said, “The instrument can provide information about how carbon atoms are connected within a given molecule, and how many hydrogen atoms are connected to those carbon atoms using milligram quantities of sample.”

The nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer will enhance the college’s chemistry, biochemistry, biology and engineering science programs, which enrolled more than 23 percent of Wartburg’s 1,775 students during the 2010-11 academic year.
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Wartburg President Dr. Darrel Colson said it is an important addition to Wartburg’s emphasis on “inquiry-based” or hands-on learning.

“Science education lends itself to such an approach,” he said, “but generally involves an extensive range of costly equipment. We have worked to build an environment to allow students in the sciences to learn and conduct research in facilities that will prepare them for future careers.”

The NMR spectrometer is expected to be available for the Winter Semester beginning in January. Nearly all of the chemistry, biochemistry and biology students are expected to use it.

“Students majoring in chemistry will benefit most from the opportunity to use this instrumentation,” Zart said. “It will help prepare them for professionally related experiences that they may have while at Wartburg and beyond, including research on and off campus, internships and graduate study.”

Wartburg science majors generally move onto medical school or graduate programs in health-related fields or research or careers in science education. The medical school placement rate is 96 percent — more than double the national average of 46 percent — with acceptance rates of more than 90 percent in other health-related disciplines.

The NMR spectrometer will be housed in the Science Center, which was renovated and doubled in size in 2004 due in part to a Carver grant. The Carver Charitable Trust also has assisted Wartburg with recent purchases of a confocal microscope and a fluorescent stereo microscope.