Renowned chemist and TAMU professor Kim Dunbar helps students interested in earning chemistry degrees understand the many potential career paths associated with them.
At Texas A&M University (TAMU), Kim Dunbar serves as the Davidson Professor of Science in the Chemistry Department. Her work, spanning decades of contributions to the international scientific community, has led to significant breakthroughs in areas like molecular magnetism and metals in medicine. The topics in her research encompass synthetic, structural, and physical inorganic and bioinorganic chemistry among others.
Kim Dunbar has been recognized over the years for leading, inspiring, and creating opportunities for students to enhance their learning through scientific research. Here, she names potential career paths for students looking to earn degrees in chemistry.
“In chemistry, we study matter and its various interactions,” says Kim Dunbar. “This type of research and understanding is required in a range of positions internationally, from medical projects to product manufacturing. There are countless exciting career choices available today for students interested in chemistry degrees.”
Some companies, Kim Dunbar said, deal only in chemical compounds and need to regularly hire chemistry graduates as a result. Forensics and government labs are other career paths that rely on the insight and understanding of chemists, whether they are producing evidence of unlawfulness or approving new medicines––and everything in between. Even unlikely professions such as paint making and working with petroleum companies require the assistance of these graduates.
“Education is another field where chemists can succeed, whether it’s at the grade school level or through continued education,” says Kim Dunbar. “In addition, pharmaceutical companies are founded on the work of scientists and chemists, providing many entry-level and advanced positions following graduation.”
Chemistry graduates are able to curb their interests towards a variety of positions, whether they take steps towards a career in scientific writing, work towards being the gatekeeper of patent applications, make improvements in medicine and healthcare, or something else entirely. Some graduates, however, may want to only apply their education and interests in research––either primarily or solely. And there are plenty of jobs to do just that, says Kim Dunbar.
“Research positions are available at institutions across the country and around the world, and they provide engaging and exciting opportunities to flex graduates’ problem-solving skills,” says Kim Dunbar. “Chemists in research roles come together to solve some of the world’s most pressing problems. They stay at the cutting edge of scientific developments, which is exciting on its own, and have huge potential to shape our world.”
Renowned chemist and TAMU professor Kim Dunbar shares below scientists’ recent use of microspectroscopy to detect levels of microplastics in sea life.
Today, the threat of microplastics in the ocean proves to be a real problem as the bits of plastic are ingested by sea life, potentially harming them and the humans who eat them. Kim Dunbar explains that microplastics already permeate our oceans and have been discovered even in the sea’s deepest regions, such as in the Mariana Trench.
“Microplastics are found all over the world in sewage and wastewater runoff which spill into oceans and become ingested by local wildlife,” says Kim Dunbar. “Pacific oysters have been the focus of recent research into microplastic pollution because they are filter feeders and may have concentrated amounts in their systems. This is an immediate concern as Pacific oysters are a sustainable food source for many people today.”
The state of Washington is one of the biggest producers of aquaculture farms in the country and supplies Pacific oysters to countless individuals. Kim Renee Dunbar says that concerns over microplastic pollutants in these animals have led to postdoc studies from institutions like the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences into the severity of the problem.
“Students began to survey estuaries in Washington state parks and the oysters living there to gauge the impact of microplastics on local wildlife,” says Kim Dunbar. “Researchers before them claimed to discover a substantial amount of microplastics within oysters specifically, but the testing methods employed were inconsistent between their studies. Much of the work identifying the presence of microplastics was done by hand, for instance.”
To avoid varying results, testing by hand was eliminated in favor of a few specialized sampling tools using a molecular approach to identify microplastics. Scientists looked to infrared microspectroscopy first, which helped them gain a clearer picture of microplastic concentration.
Infrared microspectroscopy relies on the interaction of infrared radiation with matter and is used to identify and study chemical substances. While it did help the scientists pinpoint plastics more thoroughly, more techniques were eventually needed to obtain a full picture.
“The scientists looked to Raman microspectroscopy next, which is used to determine vibrational modes of molecules and obtain a ‘fingerprint’ for compounds,” says Kim Dunbar. “By combining both forms of microspectroscopy, they were able to boil down the actual number of microparticles analyzed to only 2% synthetic plastic. Many of the other materials being studied turned out to be shell fragments, salts, and other natural particles.”
Both forms of spectrometry are expensive and require extensive training to complete correctly. But through their work, scientists studying microplastics in Pacific oysters were able to discover a ‘fingerprint’ for future studies, determine the actual level of microplastic pollution in observed wildlife, and encourage the use of spectrometry as a more standardized tool for observation.
In the pursuit of improved medicine, Kim Renee Dunbar explains how discoveries from Newcastle and Durham Universities will have a significant impact now and in the future.
Esteemed chemist and professor Kim Renee Dunbar of TAMU regularly reports on breakthroughs in science that have major benefits for society. Here, she tells how scientists from Newcastle and Durham Universities developed a way to grow crystals of organic soluble molecules out of nanoscale droplets, and how this can mean an acceleration in drug development.
“The key to the success of the scientists and researchers of the breakthrough is using inert oils to control evaporative solvent loss, which allows them to grow tiny crystals from nanoscale droplets,” says Kim Renee Dunbar. “The team is assembled from Newcastle and Durham Universities, and they collaborated with SPT Labtech to spearhead these discoveries. In their work, the team was able to crystalize soluble molecules with extremely small amounts of analyte, a first for the scientific community.”
Kim Renee Dunbar says that while this overarching process of crystallization is used today worldwide, the amount of analyte required has never been so small. This opens up the possibility for improved drug creation. The groundbreaking method, called Encapsulated Nanodroplet Crystallisation (ENaCt), allows scientists to set up hundreds of crystallisation experiments in a matter of minutes, vastly expediting the creation process.
The research was headed by Dr. Hall and Dr. Probert of Newcastle University who published their discovery in the journal Chem. Their work allows developers of medicine to access high-quality crystals, one of the most basic steps in the process of drug creation, using very small amounts of analyte.
“The nanoscale crystallisation technique developed by Dr. Hall and Dr. Probery has a tremendous impact on science, especially on the molecular sciences,” says Kim Renee Dunbar. “On a fundamental level, we will now be able to harness the power of a detailed characterisation of new molecules through X-ray crystallography. On the pharmaceutical level, these new techniques will help us develop novel drugs extremely fast since we now have quick access to characterised crystalline forms of new active ingredients.”
Being able to screen organic soluble molecules on the level of micrograms provides needed insight for academic research as well as pharmaceutical drug development and validation. Dr. Probert and Dr. Hall, as well as Kim Renee Dunbar, believe this breakthrough approach to crystallization can change science permanently for the better: along with enhanced drug discovery and development, it sheds light on our general understanding of the crystalline solid state.
Renowned Inorganic Chemist and Texas A&M Professor Kim Renee Dunbar relays how bioprinting may be ready for mainstream use sooner than predicted.
Kim Renee Dunbar is a celebrated chemist and professor who has made significant contributions in coordination chemistry and molecular magnetism during her career. A respected international leader in science, she explains below how 3D bioprinting may be a feasible solution for countless patients in the near future.
“Once thought to only be an element of science fiction storylines, doctors and physicians around the world may soon be able to rely on fabricated organs created through 3D bioprinting,” says Kim Renee Dunbar. “This marks one of the highest achievements of modern science as it can offer a life-saving medical resource to myriad patients and potentially extend the average length of life.”
3D bioprinting is made possible by using cells and other biocompatible materials in the form of bioink to print layers of substance that behaves as natural living systems and can be combined into functioning organs. Today, specialists take a digital model of a structure, such as skin tissue or bone, and recreate it with bioink that is either seeded with cells after creation or mixed in with existing living cells. Models can be created from various sources, such as generated programs, a CT, or an MRI scan, and stored digitally for future use.
“There are tens of thousands of patients in America alone who are waiting for organ transplants, and it means the difference between life and death for many,” says Kim Renee Dunbar. “In addition, many patients who receive organ transplants experience lasting damage from the effects of post-transplant immunosuppression.”
In the past, there have been a handful of significant hang ups preventing 3D-bioprinting from becoming a feasible solution for physicians. However, with recent scientific breakthroughs, industry professionals like Kim Renee Dunbar believe we’re very close to broader implementation of bioprinted organs.
“One of the major barriers to progress in 3D bioprinting was capillaries, which are required before any organ can function properly,” says Kim Renee Dunbar.
A company founded in 2016 is the pioneer behind a recent capillary breakthrough in 3D-printed organs with research scientists Melanie Matheu and Noelle Mullin at the helm of the discovery. Without the single-cell-thick blood vessels, oxygen and nutrients would be unable to flow through an organ to nourish its tissues, making the discovery one of the final and necessary ingredients required to solve the bioprinted organ conundrum.
“Capillaries are essential for engineering usable 3D-printed organs, and this new milestone means that we are closer than ever to viable medical solutions for organ transplants on a broad scale,” says Kim Renee Dunbar.
Inorganic Chemist Kim Renee Dunbar Helps Readers Understand How New Polymer Will Improve the Environment
Distinguished Professor of Chemistry Kim Renee Dunbar describes the recent breakthrough from Cornell University that will help rid plastic pollution from the ocean.
Texas A&M University has gained an international reputation for excellence especially in the field of science where leaders like Kim Renee Dunbar unveil monumental discoveries in areas such as inorganic chemistry. Below, she helps readers understand how a new polymer developed by Cornell University brings us closer than ever to ridding the ocean of plastic waste.
According to studies on pollution from institutions across the globe, the human impact on the ocean through plastics has the potential to devastate natural ecosystems. Millions of tons of plastic are produced each year with only a small fraction being successfully recycled (some studies suggest around 10%). Much of what’s left ends up in the ocean, which is then ingested by fish and other aquatic life.
“Plastics don’t decompose in the ocean on their own, and they usually end up just breaking into smaller pieces, which makes the problem even more difficult to contain,” says Kim Renee Dunbar. “The recipe we use for plastics today makes bottles and packaging extremely durable but hard to break down. Many plastics can last for hundreds of years in the ocean, breaking up into microscopic bits that float in the water or settle on the seafloor.”
Plastic debris can end up being ingested by a variety of marine life since it often appears like a natural food source. This causes harmful side effects in the animals, and the plastics often stay inside their digestive systems meaning potentially negative side effects for people who eat these animals.
“Cornell University has developed a novel polymer that is able to degrade with ultraviolet radiation, meaning we can hopefully begin to correct the damage we’ve done to ecosystems around the world,” says Dr. Kim R Dunbar. “Fishing nets are one of the most hazardous plastic products in the ocean today, and this new polymer will be able to replace current materials while retaining the mechanical properties that are required of commercial fishing gear.”
Plastic products based off this new polymer can degrade naturally with time, reducing the amount of plastic surviving in the ocean. The Cornell research team behind the discovery, Kim Renee Dunbar tells us, spent 15 years developing the new polymer, which is known as isotactic polypropylene oxide, or iPPO. The polymer chain links in iPPO degrade down to a quarter of their initial length after about a month of exposure to UV light.
“The goal of the Cornell group and scientists around the world is to eventually leave no trace of the polymer in the environment, and we’re closer than ever to a universal solution to plastic pollution,” says Kim Renee Dunbar.
Respected professor at Texas A&M University (TAMU), Kim Renee Dunbar shares the chemistry deparment’s distinguished past achievements with readers.
For decades, Kim Renee Dunbar has served as a preeminent force in the international scientific community’s understanding of critical concepts in chemistry, especially inorganic chemistry. She’s currently a University Distinguished Professor and holds the title of Davidson Professor of Science in the Chemistry Department at Texas A&M University. Below, she shares some of her department’s notable achievements since the 60s.
“Before 1966, TAMU’s chemistry department focused on teaching service courses to those enrolled in the Colleges of Agriculture and Engineering,” says Kim Renee Dunbar. “There were only a handful of modest research programs going on then and they were run by a small number of faculty with minimal funding. But in 1966 the University increased development of the chemistry department to serve as one of its flagship research departments.”
The institution’s efforts paid off, and the department was elevated into a nationally recognized program of excellence. In 1972, a significant wing was added to the Chemistry Building that included an additional 35,000 sq.ft. of laboratories and offices. While the department was only led by one Department Head in the past, three took over a few years after the expansion to run the now-large operation.
“The graduate body in the chemistry department grew to hundreds of students while research funding inflated to more than $8 million per year,” says Kim Renee Dunbar. “Expansions continued after that including a 65,000 sq.ft. addition to the Chemistry Building that offered teaching space, research laboratories, and support facilities.”
The department also saw significant advances in its research support facilities through the Center for Chemical Characterization and Analysis (CCCA), a new administrative oversight combining NMR, MS, XRD, and elemental analysis services. In the late 80’s and early 90s, the Chemistry Bulding’s oldest wings were renovated to upgrade and modernize the office, laboratory, and support spaces.
“Between 1995 and 2005, 15 new faculty were hired and the department’s Division of Biological Chemistry was established,” says Kim Renee Dunbar. “Research funding also saw a huge increase during this time to more than $14 million per year in 2003. Besides securing funds, one of the major focuses in this period was extending and strengthening departmental interactions with the industry.”
Kim Renee Dunbar tells us that it was well-known by the early 2000s that the Chemistry Department was the flagship science department at Texas A&M. In 2011, for example, the research funding for the year was $19.2 million, of which $15.4 million came from federal sources. Today, Texas A&M University stands as one of the finest educational institutions in the world and remains an industry leader in chemistry and scientific research.
Renowned inorganic chemist at Texas A&M University, Kim Renee Dunbar expounds the usefulness of metals in medicine and explains how some positively impact our bodies.
Kim Renee Dunbar is a University Distinguished Professor who holds the Davidson Professor of Science title in the Chemistry Department at Texas A&M University. Over the years, she and her research team have received many top industry awards and international distinctions for their contributions to the international scientific community.
Often, Dr. Dunbar’s work leads her into the subject of metals in medicine, which she has written extensively on during her decades-long career. Here, she explains the usefulness of metals in medicine and discusses a few ways we’ve taken advantage of their healthy properties.
“We’ve used metals in medicine for thousands and thousands of years throughout a variety of cultures around the world,” says Kim Renee Dunbar. “Iron, for instance, was used to treat anemia and copper to treat inflammation in ancient civilizations. Today, we use metal in the treatment of cancer and other aggressive illnesses. Platinum-based drugs have proven especially helpful against fighting cancer, and we’re continually discovering new solutions for it and other metal-based approaches to medicine in general.”
Platinum drugs have been a major resource for fighting cancer since at least 1978 when the popular treatment Cisplatin was introduced. The platinum compounds are useful because they’re naturally negatively charged and become positively charged within cancer cells as water molecules replace chloride ions, driving them back. Kim Renee Dunbar goes on to say that the medical field also relies on metal ions in capital equipment processes such as medical imaging when searching for a diagnosis (such as in MRIs and radioisotope imaging), and that metals are also an essential part of our own bodies.
“Our bodies depend on certain metals and can severely degrade without proper amounts of them,” says Kim Renee Dunbar. “A lack of iron can result in anemia, and a lack of copper in infants can lead to heart disease and developmental issues among other potential effects.”
The human body uses metal to perform essential biological functions such as transporting oxygen throughout and prompting enzyme function. Gold salt complexes are used today by medical professionals treating arthritis while lithium has been used to treat manic depressive disorder. Silver is used in burn victims to help prevent wound infections while bismuth is commonly used as an antacid.
“Besides depending on metals to survive, we’ve found a number of powerful remedies using metal-based medicine that are utilized the world over,” says Kim Renee Dunbar. “Our research program at Texas A&M addresses several issues in the area of metals in medicinal applications, helping expand the possibilities of medicine everywhere.”
Kim Renee Dunbar and Research Group Specialize in Molecular Magnetism
Renowned chemist and Texas A&M University professor Kim Renee Dunbar heads up a local research group dedicated to unveiling new discoveries in molecular magnetism.
For decades, Kim Renee Dunbar has amassed some of the scientific community’s top awards and distinctions for her work in inorganic chemistry. At Texas A&M University, where she is a distinguished professor and leader, Dunbar heads up a team of researchers who have greatly contributed to recent breakthroughs in chemistry. Among other specialized areas of chemistry, the Dunbar Research Group is particularly concerned with advances in molecular magnetism.
The esteemed work of Kim Renee Dunbar and her team has earned recognition from many respected scientific institutions and laboratories around the world. Today, the research group is backed by notable organizations such as the American Chemical Society, the United States Department of Energy, the Welch Foundation, and National Institutes of Health among others.
Kim Renee Dunbar’s research group incorporates concepts from material sciences, physics, and chemistry when working on projects in molecular magnetism, demonstrating their wide understanding of the interdisciplinary field. By investigating the properties and activities of molecular magnets, the team is able to contribute to breakthroughs in medicine and novel materials among other critical solutions.
Molecular magnetism involves theoretical modeling of molecular materials as well as the design, physical characterization, and synthesis of them. Molecular magnets differ from traditional magnetic materials in their low-density, transparency to electromagnetic radiation, and sensitivity to external stimuli (including pressure, light, temperature, chemical modifications, and magnetic or electric fields).
The research team’s work is highly complex and “involves a variety of bench techniques including the use of Schlenk-lines and inert atmosphere dry boxes to carry out inorganic and organic synthesis, crystal growth and general manipulations, and to gain experience in advanced experimental techniques in chemistry and physics,” says Kim Renee Dunbar.
In her research group, the participating chemistry students are able to hone their skills in DFT and ab initio methods. In their work, they use characterization tools such as X-ray crystallography, infrared, electronic and electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopies (EPR), electrochemistry, magnetometry and resources to study behaviors and test predictions.
In addition, the students are presented with opportunities to conduct experiments at National Laboratories and collaborate with some of the most respected international scientists. The group hosts numerous collaborators and other experts of molecular materials at their laboratories and present their findings at National and International conferences on occasion.
“The study of mononuclear SMMs has come to the forefront of molecular magnetism research in the last several years,” says Kim Renee Dunbar of her current focus. “Our goal is to design transition metal and lanthanide molecules with highly symmetric, discrete geometries that, by virtue of their inherent electronic properties, are predicted to lead to SMMs with large barriers to the reversal of the spin.”
Kim Renee Dunbar is a chemistry professor at Texas A&M University who’s gained wide recognition for her and her research group’s extensive work in chemistry. Among many notable achievements, she was the second female chemist in history to receive the American Chemical Society’s award in inorganic chemistry.
Distinguished chemistry professor Kim Renee Dunbar has made significant contributions to the international scientific community, especially in the field of inorganic chemistry. Her colleagues have described her as an extraordinarily talented and creative inorganic chemist and remark highly on her leadership, research, teaching and mentorship. Through research in structural and synthetic inorganic chemistry, she has helped uncover novel solutions such as the creation of anticancer agents and new conducting materials.
“Coordination chemistry, which encompasses the fundamental underpinnings of inorganic chemistry, is a vital field from which many applications have emerged, including new types of functional materials,” says Kim Renee Dunbar. “Our research over the past few decades has unearthed fascinating examples of magnetic and conducting coordination compounds, both molecular and extended architectures, and, importantly, it has provided a wonderful vehicle for the training of students at the cutting edge of interdisciplinary science.”
In the 51-year history of the American Chemical Society’s award for inorganic chemistry, Kim Renee Dunbar is the second female recipient ever, marking another major milestone in her illustrious career.
“She stands as an exemplary role model for young women who aspire to academic positions in chemistry,” said long-time colleague Jeffrey R. Long of the University of California, Berkeley.
The ACS Award in Inorganic Chemistry was created to ‘recognize and encourage fundamental research in the field of inorganic chemistry.’ Each nominee must first have demonstrated accomplishments in the research of the preparation, properties, reactions, or structure of inorganic substances. Independence of thought and originality have also been cited as key criteria when selecting recipients.
“I am highly honored to receive this award,” Kim Renee Dunbar says. “The many excellent students, postdocs, and coworkers who have contributed to the success of my research program share this award with me. I have been passionate about inorganic chemistry since I was an undergraduate, and I could not imagine another career. I deeply admire the previous recipients of the award, all of whom set the bar very high for all of us in inorganic chemistry and inspired me greatly.”
Kim Renee Dunbar was also the first female chair holder in the College of Science at Texas A&M and was named a Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, the highest academic faculty rank at the university. She’s a two-time recipient of the Texas A&M Association of Former Students Distinguished Achievement Award and received the first ever Texas A&M Women Former Students’ Network Eminent Scholar Award. In addition, Dunbar’s outstanding contributions have earned her fellowships in the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Institute of Chemists, an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellowship, and a Camille & Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award.
The research and work that Kim Renee Dunbar has completed in the subject of inorganic chemistry is utilized in labs, universities, and scientific facilities around the world. To honor her impactful contributions to science, the Royal Society of Chemistry bestowed her with a Fellowship through their institution.
Kim Renee Dunbar’s career spans more than three decades where she has served as a professor, scientist, and lead researcher with top American institutions. From her position at Texas A&M University, she and her research team have had a tremendous impact on the international scientific community’s understanding of critical topics in chemistry, especially in inorganic chemistry.
Through her research, Dunbar has shed light on subjects like synthetic, structural, and physical inorganic and bioinorganic chemistry, and she has expanded the potential of scientists everywhere through her work.
Dunbar has earned many distinctions for her contributions over the years including an ACS award, a University Distinguished Professor award, and the title of Davidson Professor of
Science at Texas A&M University. Her work has uncovered new breakthrough solutions in chemistry that range from new magnetic materials to anticancer agents. Heading the research team at Texas A&M, Kim Renee Dunbar has discovered new evidence of structure and bonding relationships as well as chemical phenomena, which helps scientists internationally pioneer solutions for age-old problems.
To honor the achievements of her research, Kim Renee Dunbar was recently named a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC). Headquartered in the United Kingdom, but reaching beyond to countries around the world, the Royal Society of Chemistry is one of the most respected chemistry institutions anywhere. As a result, the bestowment of a fellowship title on Dunbar is an international distinction. The RSC gather in various locations each year to create opportunities and provide professional resources to their members such as relevant networking, professional growth, and support from respected scientific organizations. The RSC has been a major force in the scientific community for nearly two centuries, making the award a high distinction among chemists.
“I am honored to have been selected to be a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry,” Kim
Renee Dunbar said of the award. “It is important to me to help guide future chemists in their
careers by supporting non-profit professional societies like the RSC and the American Chemical
In addition to the Fellowship with the Royal Society of Chemistry, Dunbar has also been awarded the Texas A&M Former Students Distinguished Achievement Award and the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award, among other top scientific distinctions. Her work continues to enhance the international scientific community’s understanding of essential topics in chemistry, which ultimately results in new, powerful solutions and applications for people everywhere.