Dr. Suzanne Bart
Considering the challenges that come with an increasing worldwide energy demand, a heightened awareness to climate changes, and the need for carbon-neutral fuel sources, research in actinide sciences is timely and crucial. Both fundamental and applied questions remain, including understanding bonding motifs with organic ligands, the generation of new fuels, recycling and environmental remediation of nuclear wastes and polluted sites, and the synthesis of new materials for chemical transformations and catalysis. Accordingly, research in the field of actinide chemistry has the potential not only for significant scientific but social and economic impacts. Over the last nine years, my research program has focused on making strides towards these challenges by focusing on understanding the fundamental chemistry of depleted uranium, and more recently, thorium and the transuranic elements. Our overall goal is to raise the understanding of the chemistry of uranium and it's neighbors with respect to organometallic, multi-electron processes, and bonding to be equal to that of its transition metal counterparts.
Our research program combines my past research experiences with new ideas in actinide chemistry to create an entirely unexplored field in the small community of actinide chemists. Specifically, we have introduced the utility of redox-active ligands for chemical transformation of biologically and industrially relevant small molecules as well as established multi-electron chemistry at this redox-restricted metal. These redox-active ligands effectively store electrons (reducing equivalents) to accomplish multi-electron redox-chemistry, allowing us to avoid the most stable, and thus, unreactive U(IV) oxidation state. We combine air- and moisture-sensitive synthetic techniques with multinuclear NMR, infrared, electronic absorption, Raman spectroscopies, and X-ray diffraction to synthesize and characterize low-valent uranium compounds. Due to the challenging nature of this chemistry, we have partnered with some excellent collaborators that help to elucidate the electronic structures of these challenging molecules using variable temperature magnetization studies (Prof. Eric Schelter, University of Pennsylvania; Prof. Matthew Shores, Colorado State University), computational analyses (Prof. Laura Gagliardi, University of Minnesota; Prof. Justin Walensky, University of Missouri), and X-ray Absorption spectroscopic measurements (Dr. Stosh Kozimor, Los Alamos National Laboratories). The depleted uranium studied in our laboratory is a readily available and inexpensive material, and its highly reducing nature and large atomic radius give this metal the potential to activate large substrates and to employ multiple coordination sites. It is safe to work with in a laboratory setting, as it has a long half-life (4.468×10 9 years) and is a weak alpha emitter. More recently, we have partnered with Prof. Thomas Albrecht-Schmitt (Florida State University) to bring our knowledge in manipulation of redox properties to additional members of the actinide series. All studies are performed in an inert atmosphere glovebox, which protects workers from exposure hazards, and all workers wear standard personal protective equipment at all times. For the life of our research program, our studies have focused on developing the chemistry of uranium for chemical transformations and organometallic chemistry. In order to maintain and expand our current knowledge of the chemistry of the actinide elements, it is imperative that the next generation of scientists is trained in how to manipulate, characterize, and apply these elements to tackle some of these important hurdles.
- B.S., University of Delaware, 2001
- M.S., Cornell University, 2003
- Ph.D., Cornell University, 2006
- Postdoctoral Fellow, Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, 2008
- F. Albert Cotton Award in Synthetic Inorganic Chemistry, American Chemical Society, 2024
- Rising Star Award, Women Chemists Committee, American Chemical Society, 2015
- Organometallics Young Investigator Fellow, American Chemical Society, 2014
- Engagement Award, College of Science, Purdue University, 2013
- Outstanding Contributions to Teaching By An Assistant Professor, College of Science, Purdue University, 2013
- NSF CAREER Award, 2012
- Cottrell Scholar Award, Research Corporation, 2012
- Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung, 2006
Chemistry and Biology Interface Training Grant, National Institutes of Health, 2003