The UNT Chemistry Department is proud to announce that Catherine Moulder, a first year Chemistry Ph.D. student, studying under the mentorship of Dr. Tom Cundari, has been awarded a 2018 NSF Graduate Research Fellowship! Mrs. Moulder received her undergraduate degrees in Math and Chemistry from UNT in May 2017. She has been conducting computational chemistry research in the Cundari lab for two years.
Mrs. Moulder's research aims to create a database of accurate metal-ligand bond energies to guide organometallic catalyst design. The research focuses on Earth-abundant heavy metals such as zirconium and tungsten, which could potentially serve as "green" catalysts due to their low human and environmental toxicity as well as their natural abundance. This fundamental research seeks to provide organometallic researchers with powerful new tools that will benefit their own experimental catalyst design efforts. Organometallic catalysis has broad impacts on many important research areas, ranging from environmental remediation to polymer synthesis and enzyme modeling.
In addition to her research activities, Catherine enjoys serving as an academic tutor and research mentor to undergraduate students. She actively participates in outreach activities that encourage people to experience for themselves the fun of scientific experimentation. She takes great pleasure in helping people understand concepts they had struggled with through her outreach and tutoring activities. Although her research is heavily grounded in theory, Catherine values the use of real-world examples that are easily understood to communicate the science.
Catherine is one of only 2000 students nationwide, from among over 12,000 applicants, to receive this prestigious fellowship in 2018. This award provides three years of support, including a generous stipend and cost-of-education allowance, within the five year fellowship period. Catherine is grateful for the constant support and encouragement of her mentor, Dr. Tom Cundari, as well as for the valuable assistance she has received from the UNT Office of Nationally Competitive Scholarships and the Toulouse Graduate School (TGS). Special thanks are due to TGS for allowing Catherine the opportunity to attend the Graduate Research and Fellowship Training Workshops in Fall 2017 as well as to Chemistry's own Dr. Dandekar for her practical assistance in editing application essays.