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.
The Fred Basolo Award marks the accomplishments of top chemists from across the country whose contributions to the field of inorganic chemistry have significantly impacted science. Kim Renee Dunbar, whose research is known in laboratories around the world, was the award’s recipient for 2019.
Chemists like Kim Renee Dunbar demonstrate the high value of their research, which helps uncover new applications for medicine, building materials, and more around the world. Earning an international reputation for her work in inorganic Chemistry, Dunbar was the clear winner for the 2019 Fred Basolo Medal.
Fred Basolo was a major force in chemistry whose contributions while at Northwestern University are still recognized today. After earning a Ph. D. and working on a classified military research project during the second World War, he joined the faculty at Northwestern in 1946. One of Basolo’s most famous contributions to science was in the syntheses and reaction mechanisms of transition-metal Werner complexes. In addition, he performed a portion of the seminal work in the developing fields of organometallic and bioinorganic chemistry.
Basolo had a major influence on many young scientists who today hold some of the world’s most respected positions. For his leadership, his contributions to science, and his position as a respected role model, he was awarded a multitude of accolades across his career. In 1980, Northwestern University honored Basolo with the Charles E. and Emma H. Morrison Professorship of Chemistry, and he received the 1992 ACS Pimentel Award in Chemical Education among many others.
He served as President and chairman for a number of scientific bodies and helped shape the future for countless chemists. Today, Northwestern University is still known for its major contributions to chemistry, and the Fred Basolo Medal marks the brightest chemists of our age.
To honor her achievements in inorganic chemistry across a three-decade career, the 2019 Basolo Award was given to Kim Renee Dunbar of Texas A&M University. Dunbar joined Texas A&M in 1999 where her reputation as an expert in synthetic, structural and physical inorganic and bioinorganic chemistry grew to great significance. Her use of structure and bonding relationships to explain physical and chemical phenomena has deeply influenced the work of scientists and researchers in facilities around the world for years.
Northwestern University presents the Fred Basolo Medal each year to a distinguished
contributor to chemistry such as Kim Renee Dunbar who not only advances science but also serves as a role model to inspire students and future scientists. The award is co-sponsored by the American Chemical Society Chicago Section.
“I am deeply honored to receive this medal. The list of previous recipients includes many of my inorganic chemistry idols, mentors and friends,” says Kim Renee Dunbar. “I knew Fred Basolo quite well, and he took an interest in me when I was a young professor. He and I had many long talks, and he regaled me with stories about the history of coordination chemistry. He was a wonderful role model and an inspiration to me.”
Kim Renee Dunbar has served as a professor and lead researcher of chemistry at Texas A&M University for decades where she’s had a tremendous impact on the international scientific community. Last year, to honor her achievements and further her professional standing, the Royal Society of Chemistry bestowed her with a Fellowship through their institution.
During her professional career, Kim Renee Dunbar has earned a number of distinctions, awards, and recognition for her work in chemistry, namely for her contributions to the field of 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 and labs around the world.
Throughout her work at some of the most celebrated universities in the country, Dunbar has uncovered new breakthrough solutions in chemistry that range from new magnetic materials to anticancer agents. Heading a research team from Texas A&M University has allowed her and her group to uncover critical new evidence of structure and bonding relationships as well as chemical phenomena.
The work of Kim Renee Dunbar and her team improve upon the scientific community’s understanding of inorganic chemistry and its potential applications in a range of fields. She has been awarded a number of distinctions for the work she conducts there including an ACS award, a University Distinguished Professor award, and the title of Davidson Professor of Science at Texas A&M. Last year, Dunbar was named a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry for her contributions to science.
The Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) is headquartered in the United Kingdom, but the Fellowship of the Royal Society of Chemistry award is an international distinction. Today, the RSC is one of the largest professional bodies of chemical scientists in the world. They gather frequently to create opportunities and provide professional resources such as relevant networking, professional growth, and support from respected scientific organizations. The society has been a major force in the scientific community for more than 175 years, making the award a high distinction for Kim Renee Dunbar.
In addition to the Fellowship with the Royal Society of Chemistry, she has also been awarded the Texas A&M Former Students Distinguished Achievement Award and the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award, among many others. Her work continues to improve the international scientific understanding of vital topics in inorganic chemistry, which empowers new, powerful solutions and applications the world over.
“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
Each year, the Fred Basolo Award is presented to distinguished scientists who have contributed landmark work in the field of inorganic chemistry. To honor her impactful achievements spanning a three-decade career, the 2019 Basolo Award was given to Kim Renee Dunbar of Texas A&M University.
For more than 30 years, Kim Renee Dunbar has made significant advances in inorganic chemistry that has benefited the international scientific community. In the past, she’s received many distinguished awards, titles, and fellowships that recognize her outstanding research and work, which has gone on to secure new solutions in fields like medicine.
Kim Dunbar joined the Texas A&M Department of Chemistry faculty in 1999 and furthered her international reputation as an expert in synthetic, structural and physical inorganic and bioinorganic chemistry while there. Her use of structure and bonding relationships to explain physical and chemical phenomena has deeply influenced the work of scientists and researchers in facilities around the world.
In 2004, just five years after joining Texas A&M, Dunbar was named a Davidson Professor of Science. Today, she holds the Davidson Chair in Science and has earned a distinction as the first female chair holder in the history of the Texas A&M College of Science. In 2007, she was named a University Distinguished Professor, which is the university’s highest academic faculty rank. Recently, Kim Renee Dunbar was awarded this year’s Basolo Medal for Outstanding Research in Inorganic Chemistry.
The Fred Basolo Award was created to uphold the acclaimed contributions of chemist Fred Basolo during his time at Northwestern University while also honoring modern chemists for their own involvement. Fred Basolo was the Charles E. and Emma H. Morrison Emeritus Professor of Chemistry and served as president of the ACS in 1983. Basolo arrived at the Northwestern University in 1946 and set a high standard of conduct and scientific research throughout his professional time there. His former students established his award, helping to further identify the university as one of the greatest and most respected scientific arenas in the nation.
Northwestern University presents the Fred Basolo Medal each year to a distinguished contributor to chemistry such as Kim Renee Dunbar who not only advances science but also serves as a role model to inspire students and future researchers of chemistry. The award is co-sponsored by the American Chemical Society Chicago Section.
“I am deeply honored to receive this medal. The list of previous recipients includes many of my
inorganic chemistry idols, mentors and friends,” says Kim Renee Dunbar. “I knew Fred Basolo
quite well, and he took an interest in me when I was a young professor. He and I had many long
talks, and he regaled me with stories about the history of coordination chemistry. He was a
wonderful role model and an inspiration to me.”
Kim Renee Dunbar is a world-renowned chemist and professor at Texas A&M University where she and her research team contribute landmark discoveries to the international scientific community. For her outstanding contributions to the study of inorganic chemistry, the American Chemical Society bestowed Dunbar with the prestigious Distinguished Service Award.
Chemistry professor at Texas A&M University Kim Renee Dunbar has earned many top accolades and titles across a career spanning decades of research. Her contributions to the field of inorganic chemistry are known in labs and facilities around the world and have helped shaped a range of new solutions in fields like medicine. To honor her achievements in the advancement of inorganic chemistry, Dunbar received the prestigious ACS Distinguished Service award.
“I have been passionate about inorganic chemistry since I was an undergraduate, and I could not imagine another career,” Kim Renee Dunbar said. “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. I am highly honored to receive this award, and the many excellent students, postdocs, and coworkers who have contributed to the success of my research program share it with me.”
The ACS award stands as one of the most respected distinctions in chemistry that recognizes scientists who have advanced inorganic chemistry and provided outstanding research that benefits the entire international scientific community. Recipients receive $5,000 and a certificate declaring their achievement in addition to $1,000 for travel expenses to the award ceremony.
Eligibility for the ACS award requires nominees like Kim Renee Dunbar to demonstrate landmark contributions to the advancement of inorganic chemistry through teaching, writing, research, and the administration of chemistry. Nominees must also be ACS members prior to being nominated. The ACS award was established in 1963 through funds from anonymous donors. After two years, Mallinckrodt, Inc. supported the award until 1997 when Strem Chemicals, Inc. assumed its sponsorship.
Besides the respected ACS award, Kim Renee Dunbar has also won a Camille & Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award, an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellowship, and fellowships in both the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Institute of Chemists. In addition, she’s a two-time recipient of the Texas A&M Association of Former Students Distinguished Achievement Award as well as the first recipient ever of the Texas A&M Women Former Students’ Network Eminent Scholar Award. She’s taught at and conducted research from Texas A&M University for decades and has earned the institution’s highest academic faculty rank, the Distinguished Professor of Chemistry title.
“She stands as an exemplary role model for young women who aspire to academic positions in chemistry,” says Jeffrey R. Long of the University of California, Berkeley, who is a longtime colleague.