Chemistry Professor Receives NSF Award

An assistant professor of chemistry at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, has received a $243,462 grant from the National Science Foundation to fund research that may eventually lead to new methods for monitoring brain and heart health.

Jason Bennett’s proposal, “Advancing Electrodeposited Dicyano-ferriprotoporphyrin as an Electrocatalytic Material Capable of Selectively Oxidizing Hydrogen Sulfide Over Interfering Gasotransmitters” will be supported with $176,588 for two years beginning in July, and $66,874 in a third year, contingent on the availability of funds.

The grant advances Bennett’s efforts to develop a material that can selectively oxidize physiological levels of hydrogen sulfide in the presence of carbon monoxide and nitric oxide. All three gasses are produced naturally in mammals and serve important roles within the cardiovascular and central nervous systems.

The long-term goal is to develop an internal sensor that can detect hydrogen sulfide levels within the body.

Funding was made through NSF’s Research at Undergraduate Intuitions program; over the three years Bennett expects to involve seven Penn State Behrend undergraduate chemistry majors in the project. The students’ contributions will be substantial enough to result in their own research publications and presentations.