CSMS researcher Dr. Alena Kubátová receives Chester Fritz Distinguished Professorship

Congratulations to CSMS faculty researcher Dr. Alena Kubátová for receiving the Chester Fritz Distinguished Professorship!

Dr. Kubátová, Professor in Chemical Engineering at the University of North Dakota, Dr. Alena Kubátováhas been involved in CSMS research since May 2016. She has also been involved in several other ND EPSCoR-funded programs for students as an advisor to recipients of the following ND EPSCoR funding opportunities:

  • Advanced Undergraduate Research Award (AURA)
  • Graduate Student Research Award (GSRA)
  • Doctoral Dissertation Assistantship (DDA) funding

In addition, Dr. Kubátová was a recipient of ND EPSCoR WISE funding Spring 2017.  WISE, acronym for Women in Science and Engineering, is designed to help expand efforts to increase female participation in STEM disciplines and to increase the capacity of investigators to compete more effectively for additional grant funding.

Dr. Kubátová has also been involved in ND EPSCoR’s NATURE program – Nurturing American Tribal Undergraduate Research and Education – by providing a lab tour to NATURE University Summer Camp participants June 2017.

Congratulations again to Dr. Kubátová for being honored with UND’s Chester Fritz Distinguished Professorship!

You can read more about Dr. Kubátová and the Professorship honor in this UND University Newsletter article

Two students who have worked on CSMS research receive prestigious NSF Graduate Research Fellowships

Congratulations to CSMS participant Anna Renner for receiving a prestigious NSF Graduate Research Fellowship!

Anna with her CSMS poster presented at the April 2018 ND EPSCoR Annual State Conference.

Anna has been involved in CSMS research, under Dr. Mukund Sibi at North Dakota State University (NDSU), since January 2017 and graduated May 2018 with her Bachelor of Science in Chemistry. She is currently a lab technician in Chemistry and Biochemistry at NDSU, and she plans to begin graduate studies in chemistry at Harvard University Fall 2018. During the time Anna has been involved in CSMS research, she has made the following poster presentations related to her CSMS research under Dr. Sibi:

  • Bio-Derivable Alkoxybenzenes for the Synthesis of Sustainable Polymers
  • Preparation of a Novel, Bio-Derivable Crosslinker for Polymer Synthesis
  • Preparation of Bio-Derivable Reactive Diluents for Polymer Synthesis
  • Synthesis of Bio-Based Reactive Diluents as Styrene Alternatives
  • Synthesis of Bio-Derivable Reactive Diluents for Styrene Replacement
    in Sustainable Polymers
  • Synthesis of Biomass-Derived Furan-Based Ethers
  • Synthesis of Cirsiumaldehyde: A Reaction Optimization Study

Congratulations again to Anna, and best wishes to her on her graduate studies at Harvard!

More information about Anna and another NDSU student who received the Fellowship this year can be read in this NDSU News article

Congratulations to Katelyn Randazzo, previously a participant in CSMS research Fall 2013 to May 2016 under Dr. Qianli Chu at the University of North Dakota, who also received a NSF Graduate Research Fellowship in 2018. While involved in CSMS research, Katelyn made the following poster presentations and has been included in several publications:


  • Commercial Floodlights: A Promising Resource in Photochemistry
  • Floodlight Photochemistry: From a Classic Photoreaction to Cutting-Edge Application
  • Incandescent Light: A Promising Radiation Source in Photochemistry
  • Lighting the Way to Accessible Solid-State Photochemical Synthesis: Incandescent Lights as a Facile Source of Ultraviolet Radiation
  • Lighting the Way to Greener Chemistry: Incandescent Floodlights as a Facile UV Light Source for Classic and Cutting-Edge Photoreactions
  • Lighting the Way to Greener Chemistry: Incandescent Lights as a Promising Source of Ultraviolet Radiation


  • Randazzo, K.; Wang, Z.; Wang, Z.D.; Butz, J. and Chu, Q.R. (Available online July 2016). Lighting the Way to Greener Chemistry: Incandescent Floodlights as a Facile UV Light Source for Classic and Cutting-Edge Photoreactions, ACS Sustainable Chem. & Eng., 4(9), 5053-5059.
    DOI: 10.1021/acssuschemeng.6b01506
  • Wang, Z.; Kastern, B.; Randazzo, K.; Ugrinov, A.; Butz, J. Seals, D.W.; Sibi, M.P. and Chu, Q.R. (2015). Linear polyester synthesized from furfural-based monomer by photoreaction in sunlight, Green Chemistry, 17, 4720-4724.
    DOI: 10.1039/C5GC01783A
  • Wang, Z.; Randazzo, K.; Hou, X.; Simpson, J.; Struppe, J.; Ugrinov, A.; Kastern, B.; Wysocki, E. and Chu, Q.R. (2015). Stereoregular Two-dimensional Polymers Constructed by Topochemical Polymerization, Macromolecules, 48(9), 2894-2900.
    DOI: 10.1021/acs.macromol.5b00109
  • Wang, Zhihan.; Miller, B.; Butz, J.; Randazzo, K.; Wang, Zijun D. and Chu, Q. (2017). Polyladderane Constructed from Gemini Monomer via Photoreaction. Angewandte Chemie (International ed. in English), 56, 12155-12159.
    DOI: 10.1002/anie.201705937

Congratulations again to Katelyn as you continue your studies!

Anna and Katelyn are two out of three individuals who have received a NSF Graduate Research Fellowship in the last two years who have been involved in a ND EPSCoR sponsored program.

  • Alec Redmann, Summer and Fall 2014 participant in ND EPSCoR’s STTAR program, Students in Technology Transfer And Research, received his Fellowship in 2016. You can read more about Alec in this UND University News article.

Congratulations to Alec!


CSMS participants competed in the Agriculture track at NDSU’s Innovation Challenge 2017 and placed…..

Pictured (L to R): Burkart, Amiri, Helten, and Ulven

Two participants with the Center for Sustainable Materials Science (CSMS), PhD Graduate student Ali Amiri, and Master’s student Victoria Burkart – along with Britt Helten, a Master’s student also doing research on sustainability – presented their innovative idea ‘Sustainable Sporting Goods’ at this year’s Innovation Challenge at NDSU and placed 2nd in the Agricultural track! All three work on research under Dr. Chad Ulven, Associate Professor in Mechanical Engineering at North Dakota State University.

Congratulations to Ali, Victoria and Britt on your winning innovative idea!

The sustainability research Dr. Ulven is working on in CSMS is what led the students to their innovative idea. Their idea had been selected, along with 43 other innovative ideas, to move on to the semi-final round of the Innovation Challenge scholarly competition that was held on January 30th, 2017 at NDSU’s Memorial Union.

Since the 2017 NDSU Innovation Challenge, Britt and Ali have graduated; and Ali, now Dr. Amiri, has joined the Mechanical Engineering faculty at NDSU as an Assistant Professor of Practice.  Congratulations Britt and Ali!

A little bit more about Dr. Amiri:

  • Ali has been working with CSMS since 2014 and has been developing bio-based composites using flax fiber and soybean oil resins developed by Dr. Dean Webster’s CSMS group.
  • What got him interested in the STEM/science field: The most interesting part about it is to find out about the science behind everything, design and create new ideas, and apply those ideas and science to everyday life with the goal of improving everyone’s life including future generations (sustainable design).

Below are some other photos for you to enjoy:

Burkart and Helten in the lab

Burkart and Helten at the event

Amiri at the event


Links to news items about the 2017 NDSU Innovation Challenge:

11/30/2016   44 Ideas Advance to Semi-Final Round of Innovation Challenge

02/02/2017   Innovation Challenge Showcase

03/06/2017   Innovation Challenge 2017 Winners

CSMS researcher Chad Ulven receives 2017 Scientist Medal from IAAM for his CSMS research

Dr. Chad Ulven, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at NDSU and CSMS researcher, recently received the 2017 Scientist Medal from the International Association of Advanced Materials (IAAM) at their annual European Advanced Materials Congress (EAMC) held August 22-24, 2017 in Stockholm, Sweden.

Ulven received the award through his CSMS collaborative work with Dr. Sivaguru, a former CSMS researcher now at Bowling Green State University, aimed at creating recyclable biocomposites from photo-triggered resins.

Congratulations to Dr. Ulven on this scientific recognition!

UPDATE 10/03/2017: Dr. Ulven’s achievement was noted on 9/29/2017 in the NDSU News post Associate chair of mechanical engineering receives international award as well as on Publicnow.com

High School Chemistry teacher sparked scientific curiosity

Arvin Yu, a Graduate Student in Coatings and Polymeric Materials at North Dakota State University, assists in the Center for Sustainable Materials Science (CSMS) research in Dr. Dean Webster’s CSMS research group. Arvin’s contribution to CSMS research is in developing bio-based resins from soybean oil and sugar for structural composite applications. Arvin wants to work in the industry and put into practice the knowledge and skills he learned through his work with the CSMS research group.

Arvin has been scientifically inclined since he was young. His high school chemistry teacher sparked scientific curiosity in him at an early age, and she influenced him to take an active interest in chemistry. Fun fact about Arvin: he finds it fun and enjoyable to try out different cuisines when he goes out to eat.

You can watch Arvin, alongside graduate student Adlina Paramarta and Postdoc Ivan Hevus, in the following video as they talk about some of their work with the CSMS research group: https://vimeo.com/181097192

You can also see Arvin featured in the following local KVLY news segment, with fellow graduate student Kyle Kingsley, about their experiments at the NDSU graduate-run event Avenues of Scientific Discovery https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LveE1Sr0O5c&feature=youtu.be

You can view more videos about CSMS research at the CSMS website’s Multimedia page at http://csms-ndsu.org/multimedia/.

Science Training in Advanced Interdisciplinary Research in Sustainable Chemistry (STAIRS @ Sivagroup) at North Dakota State University.

By Dr. Jayaraman Sivaguru, Ramya Raghunathan and Ravichandranath Singathi

In June 2016, Dr. Jayaraman Sivaguru’s Center for Sustainable Materials Science (CSMS) research group, through a research collaborative partnership with Dr. Mafany Mongoh at Sitting Bull College (SBC), Fort Yates, ND, welcomed Mr. Saul Bobtail Bear and Mr. Josh Silk to Dr. Sivaguru’s lab at NDSU. Saul and Josh are environmental science students at Sitting Bull College participating in CSMS research under Dr. Mafany Mongoh.  As part of the ND EPSCoR program, the Center for Sustainable Materials Science (CSMS) plays an important role for research collaborative projects among different research expertises in science and engineering. CSMS helps in providing research and STEM education opportunities for students across the state, including students at the Tribal Colleges (TCs). CSMS research groups across the state teach and explain the importance of using agricultural materials to develop sustainable materials as alternative energy resources for fossil fuel materials.

Dr. Sivaguru’s CSMS group provided research training for Saul and Josh using his interdisciplinary training program STAIRS @ Sivagroup.  The STAIRS @ Sivagroup training program helps students meet the challenges of the 21st century through integration of science, technology and research with outreach and collaboration.  Saul and Josh worked on the synthesis of photodegradable polymers derived from biomass (fructose-derived products) by incorporating phototriggers as a light sensitive unit in the polymer backbone. CSMS students Ramya Raghunathan and Ravichandranath Singathi interacted closely and worked in collaboration with Saul and Josh.

Apart from the synthesis, they did controlled degradation of the biobased polymer and the model systems by employing light as the energy source for the recovery of the monomer. The techniques they learned included experiment/reaction setup, isolation of compounds by extractions and purification, photoreactions in a Rayonet Photoreactor/chamber, and analysis of the products formed by TLC and NMR characterizations.

At the end of the training, Josh mentioned that “it’s a nice platform and a good start for undergraduate students from different fields like engineering, microbiology, environmental sciences to get familiarize about the importance of sustainable materials in day to day life and understanding about the impact of fossil fuels derived products and their depletion from the environment”. The STAIRS @ Sivagroup interdisciplinary learning program motivates students from diverse backgrounds and helps students working in CSMS research teams to understand, and help others understand, the true meaning of sustainability, renewability, and reproducibility.

Interest in Sciences comes from family and high school chemistry teachers

The Center for Sustainable Materials Science (CSMS), funded by a National Science Foundation EPSCoR grant, provides opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students to engage in research. One of these students is Eric Serum, a doctoral graduate student majoring in Synthetic Organic Chemistry at North Dakota State University, who has worked alongside several undergraduates in Dr. Mukund Sibi’s CSMS research group to devise and develop optimal strategies for the synthesis, purification, and characterization of 2,5-bis(hydroxymethyl)furan, 5-hydroxymethylfurfural, 2,5-diformylfuran, 2,5-furandicarboxylic acid, 3,3’-fur-2,5-diylbis(acrylic acid) and their derivatives.

Eric Serum Eric’s central research theme focuses on the application of the Diels-Alder reaction to those biomass derived furans for the preparation of novel C1,C4-disubstituted-7-oxabenzonorbornadienes, which have been aromatized in our work to prepare naphthalenic terephthalic acid analogs. He intends to complete his doctoral thesis in 2018, secure an avenue for continued intellectual and professional development (either a program for academic or industrial post-doctoral study), or find work in the chemical industries, before ultimately returning to academia if there is an opportunity.

Eric’s initial interest in sciences comes from his family. “My mother initially got me going with dinosaurs. From a young age, I was particularly interested in paleontology which developed into a passion for life sciences and for astrophysics/planetology. In high school I had two wonderful chemistry teachers (one for general chemistry and one for organic chemistry); it also turns out that most astronomers spend time looking at computer screens rather than the night sky nowadays. Those two factors controlled my decision to pursue an undergraduate degree in chemistry at the University of Wisconsin – River Falls where I had the great pleasure of working for a research advisor who gave me every opportunity to develop technical skills and fundamental knowledge. The small class sizes at UWRF afforded many opportunities to interact with each of the faculty members directly so that I was always able to challenge my understanding.”

Eric is one of several students featured in the following video about some of the work being done in Dr. Mukund Sibi’s CSMS research group: https://vimeo.com/164640773. This video and others from the CSMS researchers can be found on the CSMS website’s Multimedia page at http://csms-ndsu.org/multimedia/.

Welcome Quintin Elliott and Breanne Hatfield

By Kathy Wahlberg

REUWelcome Research Experience for Undergraduates award recipients Quintin Elliott and Breanne Hatfield to CSMS.

Quintin Elliott and Breanne Hatfield are two of five undergraduate students who have received awards in the Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) Pilot Program of the North Dakota Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research, known as ND EPSCoR.

Through the award, students will learn scientific research and communication skills as they work with faculty on cutting-edge research projects in chemistry, materials science, engineering, agribusiness and applied economics, hydrology and atmospheric sciences. Their research projects will consist of 200 hours conducted for up to one year, beginning June 1. Recipients are awarded a $5,000 stipend and up to $2,000 for summer housing.

The REU program is primarily geared toward undergraduate students in the STEM disciplines and provides the opportunity to work in the Center for Regional Climate Studies (CRCS) or the Center for Sustainable Materials Science (CSMS). Students must be enrolled at North Dakota State University, University of North Dakota, one of the five tribal colleges located in North Dakota, or one of four North Dakota University System primarily undergraduate institutions.

Student recipients, their institutions, Center of Research, and advisors are:

  • Levi Bassett, Dickinson State University, CRCS, Joshua Steffan
  • Quintin Elliott, University of North Dakota, CSMS, Qianli Chu
  • Breanne Hatfield, Minot State University, CSMS, Mikhail Bobylev
  • Billi Petermann, Dickinson State University, CRCS, Eric Brevik
  • Hayden Zander, Valley City State University, CRCS, Andre DeLorme

North Dakota EPSCoR is a federally and state funded program designed to improve the ability of university and college researchers to compete more effectively for federal, regional and private research grants in the sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics.

News about these awards were announced on the following website pages:

Future Dentist’s Progression through Employment in an Organic Chemistry Laboratory

By Caitlin Bussard

Caitlin BussardI recently graduated with a major in biology and a minor in chemistry at North Dakota State University (NDSU). During my undergraduate studies, I was gifted the opportunity to work in a green chemistry laboratory under the direction of Dr. Mukund Sibi. My primary task encompassed synthesizing bio-based monomers that maintain high functional properties useful for polymer synthesis: 5-Hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF), 2,5-Diformylfuran (DFF), 5-Chloromethylfurfural (CMF), 3.3′-(2,5-furyl)bis (acrylic acid), 3,3′-(2,5-furandiyl)bis (ethyl acrylate), 3,3’-(2,5-furandiyl)bis (methyl acrylate), 3,3′-(2,5-furandiyl)bis(isopropyl acrylate), 5-(Ethoxymethyl)-2-furaldehyde, and 5,5′(oxy-bis(methylene)bis-2-furfural (OBMF). These molecules are imperative to the scientific community as they may play a role in the synthesis of sustainable fossil fuel alternatives.

I stepped into the laboratory as a novice, maintaining a limited understanding of organic chemistry: processes, reactions, molecular structures, etc. As time progressed, I found myself surpassing fundamental memorization and delving into conceptual understanding. A conceptual understanding of organic chemistry became imperative as I communicated scientific findings of complex processes to diverse audiences. The ability of one to execute precise communication is a key component of my chosen career path, dentistry; I will use communicative abilities to better connect with patients, staff, and other dental professionals. Aside from communication, abilities such as organization and attention to detail have largely progressed. A great thanks to the NDSU Department of Chemistry, Dr. Mukund Sibi, Eric Serum, and Catherine Sutton for providing an environment conducive to learning and one that has impacted my professional career.