Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada

Research Nova Scotia Trust Fund supports StFX Faculty and Students

December 17th, 2018

Two StFX state-of-the-art chemistry research laboratories, led by StFX faculty Dr. Geniece Hallett-Tapley and Dr. Shajahan (Shah) Razul are making significant contributions to fundamental investigations into industrially-relevant reactions having less of a carbon footprint and into the freezing of biomolecules with industrial applications.

Additionally, the labs are providing StFX students with a unique combination of fundamental and applied industrial research opportunities—experience that will help makes the students more competitive in their future careers.

The equipment in both labs is made possible through research grants each professor has received from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI) with matching funds provided by the Research Nova Scotia Trust (RNST).

Dr. Hallett-Tapley has received $89,186 from the CFI, with matching RNST funds for her research project, “Applications of Modified Perovskite Photocatalysts in Fundamental Organic Transformation.”

Dr. Razul has received CFI funding in the amount of $67,544 plus matching funding for research equipment for the “Development and Structure-Function Relationship Studies of Cryoprotectants in Seafood.”

Dr. Hallett-Tapley is looking at ways to make industrially-relevant reactions have less of a carbon footprint. For instance, many of the reactions currently under investigation in her lab are used in the synthesis of common drugs and fine chemicals and typically rely on high heat and long reaction times. Dr. Hallett-Tapley's lab is actively looking into ways to maintain efficiency of these reactions, but reduce the amount of energy required by implementing the use of visible light sources and room temperature conditions

Heat sources, she says, are derived from finite fossil fuel resources. Her research is looking at ways to be less reliant on fossil fuels and to ensure these processes have sustainability into the future.

Over the past two years she’s had two master’s students working in her lab, nine undergraduate students, and a visiting colleague from Brazil.

For Dr. Razul, his lab is focused on studying the freezing of biomolecules in food systems, particularly in seafood, both cooked and raw. In particular, he has been researching cooked lobster meat and how to get it in a more pristine state when it freezes.

What’s unique about the work, he says, is the idea to use the natural molecules and to tune them in a way using computer simulation. He’s designed experiments to check to see if the simulation is doing what he thinks it will do. The equipment enables detailed studies on the freezing properties of cryoprotectants.

His research has already shed light on how to keep food in an almost fresh state after it is frozen. He is moving onto the second stage of his research, looking at molecules in raw food, including lobster and shrimp.  

Dr. Razul has also had a number of students involved in his research lab over the past two years including about seven undergraduate students and a PhD student.

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