Thomas Teets, a Case Western Reserve University graduating senior, will pursue graduate studies in chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) with support of a five-year Fannie and John Hertz Foundation Fellowship.
Teets, of Amherst, Ohio, was one of 15 students nationwide selected from 580 applicants to receive $28,000 annually in support for their future studies. He will use his fellowship to advance his research in the area of in inorganic chemistry related to solar energy conversion.
"I was surprised to receive this fellowship," said Teets. The intense application process included recommendations by four faculty members, two essays and two interviews.
Teets said he felt he had made it through the first interview but was skeptical about the second one that required him to solve a physics problem "on his feet.
"I didn't think the second interview went well, but I think it speaks well to the quality of education here at Case," Teets said, adding that he thought the committee was interested in seeing how he would approach a problem from a scientific point of view.
"They wanted to see if I could think like a scientist in both interviews," he said.
For the past two years, Teets has been involved in undergraduate research in the lab of Thomas Gray, assistant professor of chemistry. Gray's lab is exploring the transition metal coordination chemistry of the azadipyrromethene ligand; some of these complexes could have applications in photodynamic cancer therapies. Teets has been preparing and characterizing compounds that have potential use in this type of cancer treatment where compounds interact with light to kill cancer cells.
During the regular academic year, he undertook the research projects as part of his requirements for his chemistry degree, but had additional support of a Support of Undergraduate Creative Research Endeavors (SOURCE) grant for summer lab opportunities.
Teets' research with Gray has become the basis of three papers that are in progress of being written.
In addition to his research contributions to the chemistry department, Teets has worked two part-time jobs as a supplemental instructor for the first-year chemistry course and as an usher for Cleveland Orchestra concerts.
He is active on campus with the chemistry fraternity Alpha Chi Sigma and as the secretary of The Case Footlighters, a theater group in which he serves as the pianist for the group's pit orchestra.
Case Western Reserve University is committed to the free exchange of ideas, reasoned debate and intellectual dialogue. Speakers and scholars with a diversity of opinions and perspectives are invited to the campus to provide the community with important points of view, some of which may be deemed controversial. The views and opinions of those invited to speak on the campus do not necessarily reflect the views of the university administration or any other segment of the university community.