Bruce Armitage

Letter from the Department Head

Welcome to the 2022 issue of The Initiator!

These are exciting times in the department. We are now elbows-deep in the design process for the new Richard King Mellon Hall of Science, which is slated to open in 2026 and will house most of the research labs currently located in the venerable Mellon Institute. The building will feature cutting edge laboratory design and technology that emphasizes interdisciplinary, collaborative research and education spaces. The college is also far along the path toward opening the Carnegie Mellon University Cloud Lab, the first such lab at a university. Located in the revitalized Bakery Square neighborhood, the space is undergoing renovation and the bulk of the scientific instruments have been ordered. With opening slated for spring 2023, you can expect to see the CMU Cloud Lab featured in next year’s Initiator!

This issue of The Initiator highlights numerous recent research successes and educational advances in the department. Maria Kurnikova’s application of computational chemistry to understand fundamental phenomena in neuroscience and Rongchao Jin’s discovery of elegant helical nanocluster assemblies are just two of the examples you can read about that illustrate the breadth of our research portfolio. The recent additions of Isaac Garcia-Bosch and Gabriel Gomes to our faculty ranks further bolsters our research strengths in catalysis, computational chemistry and automated science. The long list of awards earned by our faculty, students and alumni provide added evidence of our strong national and international standing.

I would also like to highlight a theme running through the issue — sustainability. This is the defining issue of our times as well as for future generations. Whether analyzing the atmosphere for new threats or developing remarkably efficient catalysts for cleaning the environment, our team of world-renowned chemists, including Terry Collins, Neil Donahue and Ryan Sullivan are leading the way toward a healthier planet and a more responsible approach to the entire chemical enterprise. (This team will only get stronger in 2023, when Carrie McDonough brings her expertise in environmental chemistry to our department as the newest member of our faculty.) This issue also highlights a new additional major in Environmental and Sustainability Studies, jointly administered by the Mellon College of Science and the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Although the major is open to any student at CMU, it reflects chemistry’s central role in our society.

As we move into the new academic year and the first year of my term as department head, we hope you share our excitement for all the great things happening for the Department of Chemistry at CMU and that you will help us to support these initiatives through the university’s “Make Possible” campaign or in whatever way you can. Thanks for reading and please don’t hesitate to reach out. We would love to hear from you!

Bruce Armitage
Professor and Head, Department of Chemistry
Carnegie Mellon University