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The American Chemical Society’s Petroleum Research Fund has awarded a three-year, $65,000 grant to Carol Parish, professor of chemistry at the University of Richmond, through the society’s Undergraduate Research Grant program.

The grant will support Parish’s project, “Understanding Diradical Behavior in Asphaltene Model Compounds.” Funds will provide summer stipends for Parish and two Richmond students, plus supplies and travel to present research results at professional meetings.

Parish will use state-of-the-art theoretical methods to characterize the structures, energies and nature of aromatic and heteroaromatic diradicals – models for actual diradicals generated when asphaltenes contained in oil sand and oil shale are heated. These asphaltenes are an untapped source of hydrocarbon fuel in North America.

The world’s largest known oil shale deposit lies across portions of Colorado, Wyoming and Utah and contains an estimated 1.2 to 1.8 tons of oil shale, from which 800 billion barrels of oil could conceivably be recovered. Parish’s research will help assess the energy potential of oil shale to help prospectors and scientists determine whether it is feasible to tap it commercially.

Parish holds a Ph.D. from Purdue University and has taught at Richmond since 2005.