Select Page
Beyond the Fence Title

Chemistry’s Bailey Bowers Wins Rath Award

Bailey Bowers, who earned her doctorate in chemistry, received the 2022 Bhakta and Sushama Rath Graduate Award for her research in environmental chemistry. The award supports a Ph.D. student in a STEM field whose research benefits U.S. industry or societal needs.

Bowers’ research investigates hazardous “everyday everywhere chemicals,” including per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which are found in many different consumer, commercial and industrial products.

Their widespread usage and extreme persistence have resulted in contamination of many environmental areas, including drinking water. Exposure to certain levels of PFAS may lead to a variety of health effects, including developmental delays in children, increased risk of some cancers and increased cholesterol levels.

“This class of compounds poses some of the biggest challenges among the everyday everywhere chemicals,” said Bowers, who worked in the lab of Ryan Sullivan, professor of chemistry and associate director of the Institute for Green Science. “A lot of my research has been on developing better methods to measure them, especially in the atmosphere, and developing better methods to remediate them.”

Bowers sees her work as vital to remediating the effects PFAS have on both people and the environment. She is currently a visiting professor at Earlham College in Indiana.


■ Kirsten Heuring

Ruiran Xun earns K&L Gates Award

Ruiran Xun’s interests are as diverse as her experiences. The recent graduate left Carnegie Mellon with a dual bachelor’s degree in chemistry and computer science and a minor in collaborative piano. At commencement, she was awarded the K&L Gates Prize, a $5,000 award given to a graduating undergraduate student who has inspired their fellow students to love learning through a combination of intellect, high scholarly achievement, engagement with others and character.

Her love of research, teaching and musical theater guided her experiences at CMU. She conducted research on organic and polymer synthesis with Associate Chemistry Professor Kevin Noonan. And she was a teaching assistant in Principles of Imperative Computation for seven semesters, as well as co-teaching the course during the summer.

Balancing out Xun’s love of chemistry and computer science is her devotion to collaborative musical productions, including collaborative piano — a musical discipline that combines performance, accompaniment and pedagogy. Xun has played as a rehearsal pianist for CMU’s Scotch’n’Soda Theatre productions, and she music directed three mainstage musicals with Scotch’n’Soda.

“I’m incredibly grateful that during my four years at Carnegie Mellon I’ve been able to participate in a myriad of experiences and consequently form meaningful friendships with people from many different backgrounds,” Xun said.

■ Jean Hayes