Two University of Richmond chemistry professors, Michael Norris and Carol Parish, have been awarded undergraduate research grants from the American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund.

The Petroleum Research Fund supports fundamental research directly related to petroleum or fossil fuels at nonprofit institutions in the U.S. and other countries.

Michael Norris, an inorganic chemist, focuses on finding new molecules that exhibit unique reactivity with carbon dioxide. He has received this ACS funding to support his project, “Systems for CO2 Conversion to Value-Added Products with NADH Mimics.”

“Carbon dioxide is a product of the combustion of fuels such as coal, oil, natural gas and gasoline, but unfortunately, CO2 is not a useful molecule and is a major contributor to climate change,” Norris explains. “The goal of this project is to turn CO2 back into a fuel, specifically methanol, a liquid fuel that can be used in both the energy and transportation sectors.”

“This project will allow students to work on the cutting edge of chemistry, where answers remain elusive and unknown, and where the work students are creating is directly contributing to the knowledge of the scientific community,” Norris added.

Carol Parish’s research focuses on understanding the molecular behavior of energy-related materials and biomolecules. She has received this ACS funding to support her project, “An Atomistic Inquiry into the Driving Forces for Nano-Aggregation and Cluster Formation in Asphaltenes.” Asphaltenes are molecular substances found in crude oil.

“The primary goal of this research is to better understand the molecular behavior of asphaltenes,” Parish explains. “The sludge that forms during asphaltene aggregation is known to foul fuel pipelines. Understanding aggregation at the molecular level will allow the development of additives to combat this problem.”

Parish was also recently named the recipient of the 2017 Zaida C. Morales-Martinez Prize for Outstanding Mentoring of American Chemical Society Scholars.

These research projects will involve first-year through senior undergraduate students.

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Cutting Edge Contributions

“This project will allow students to work on the cutting edge of chemistry, where answers remain elusive and unknown, and where the work students are creating is directly contributing to the knowledge of the scientific community.”
-Michael Norris, chemistry professor.

Assistant Professor of Inorganic Chemistry
Professor of Chemistry
Program Coordinator, Integrated Inclusive Science and SMART Programs
Computational and Theoretical Physical Chemistry