Leah Dodson Wins 2017 Miller Prize

Leah Dodson won the Miller Prize at the 72nd International Symposium on Molecular Spectroscopy, held June 19–23 in Urbana, Illinois. Dodson is an NRC postdoc whose official advisor is Jun Ye, but who primarily works on molecular spectroscopy in the Mathias Weber lab. Her award-winning talk was entitled “Oxalate Formation in Titanium––Carbon Dioxide Anionic Clusters Studied by Infrared Photodissociation Spectroscopy.”

“Leah gave a nice polished presentation with good organization and clarity,” said Ben McCall, Chair of the International Symposium on Molecular Spectroscopy, in a letter to Weber announcing the award. “She clearly outlined the rationale, the experiment, and the results. She was engaged, excited about her project, and good at thinking on the spot.”

Dodson’s project featured in her talk was the investigation of catalysts in model systems. Specifically, she studied the possible use of titanium dioxide (TiO2) as a catalyst to break carbon-oxygen (C–O) bonds in carbon dioxide (CO2) produced in a factory. Breaking C–O bonds in CO2 is a key step in turning this greenhouse gas back into usable fuel––and keeping it out of the atmosphere. Dodson’s experiment worked surprisingly well. In the experiment, TiO2 anions effectively broke COmolecules, forming metal carbonyl in the process. This experiment was the basis for her symposium talk, which resulted in the Miller Prize.

As a Miller Prize winner, Dodson has been invited to present a 15-min talk in one of the plenary sessions in the June 2018 symposium. Dodson will also serve as a judge in the 2018 Miller Prize competition. In addition, she and her coauthors have been invited to submit an article based on her talk at this year’s symposium to the Journal of Molecular Spectroscopy.