Kim Dunbar is a Distinguished Professor of Chemistry at Texas A & M University. She’s won numerous awards for her work in inorganic chemistry. She currently focuses on coordination chemistry, which opens up many avenues to explore. She is one of the researchers leading the way in nanotechnology. She states that nanotech is currently used in various applications, which is expected to increase.
What is Nanotech?
Nanotech involves controlling matter at the molecular level. Kim Dunbar explains this gives scientists options that were once the stuff of science fiction. Nanotech spans all scientific disciplines, including chemistry, engineering, and materials science. Nanoparticles are measured in nanometers. There are 25,400,000 nanometers in an inch.
Kim Dunbar Explains Nanotech Today
Kim Dunbar states that nanotechnology is now commonly used in the medical field. Nano drugs are one exciting application. Nanotechnology allows drugs to be delivered to highly targeted areas. This can lead to more effective treatments with fewer side effects than traditional therapies. Nanoscience ts also targeted at increasing computing power and memory in electronic devices while scaling down the size. Nanotechnology has usage in batteries and solar power cells. It is also being used in surprising applications in food. According to Kim Renee Dunbar, clay nanoparticles are being used to prevent gases from entering food packaging.
The Future of Nanotech
When it comes to the future of nanotech, Kim Renee Dunbarsays there are sure to be some surprises. One interesting application is sensors for food. It is hypothesized that carbon nanotubes could be placed on food packaging to detect food spoilage. Nanosensors will also be able to detect bacteria in food packaging plants themselves. This could provide safety testing at a much quicker and cost-effective rate than lab testing.
Kim Dunbar says there are many medical applications on the horizon as well. One of these is nanotech sensors that are injected into the body. This would allow doctors to monitor the patient or check for conditions in a less invasive way. There is an almost endless amount of possibilities for uses of these “electroceuticals.”
Self-healing materials are another concept Kim Renee Dunbar finds fascinating. Nanoparticles could go where they were needed in the material to fill in cracks or worn areas. They could also be used as sensors to detect structural damage to bridges and nuclear power plants before the potential damage can pose a danger.
While these applications may sound like science fiction, Kim Renee Dunbar says they are closer than you think. It’s hard to imagine the changes that nanotechnology will eventually bring about as research continues, but it’s a safe bet that the world will benefit from these emerging technologies.
For decades, Kim Dunbar has helped further the international scientific community’s knowledge of inorganic chemistry, receiving several honors and titles acknowledging her contributions. From Texas A&M University, she leads the Dunbar Research Group, making strides in the field of chemistry for current and future applications.
Dr. Kim Dunbar ’s career in chemistry extends back decades where she has contributed with groundbreaking research and application, especially in the field of inorganic chemistry. She is a leading chemistry professor and department head at Texas A&M University where she also leads a student-based research team.
In a span of a few years, the Dunbar Research Group has improved the scientific understanding of multiple topics in inorganic chemistry, having earned high recognition in the scientific community. Today, they are backed by several major institutions that ensure Dr. Kim Dunbar and her team can continue adding to our understanding of critical elements in chemistry. Among their memorable contributors are the United States Department of Energy, the American Chemical Society, the Welch Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and the National Science Foundation.
The research she and her team have conducted continues to help develop projects that aid humanity through stronger materials, disease treatments, novel compounds, and plenty more.
The Dunbar Group focuses on topics in inorganic chemistry with a special focus on coordination chemistry. In their research, they attempt to understand and be more equipped to explain relationships between molecular structure and physical properties to the masses. Dr. Kim Dunbar oversees research on topics like molecular magnetism, anti-cancer compounds, and multifunctional materials with organic radicals.
The students that Dunbar invites into the research group have the benefit of adding to their chemical knowledge outside the boundaries of their individual degrees and are able to serve as an instrumental component of an internationally-recognized scientific research group. While involved, they gain experience in several state-of-the-art techniques and instrumentation, which include air-free synthesis (glovebox and Schlenk-line), X-ray crystallography, SQUID magnetometry, mass spectrometry, computational chemistry, cell viability assays, electrochemistry, and electronic, EPR, infrared, and NMR Spectroscopies. In addition to their degrees, this exclusive experience prepares them for careers in chemistry, providing a launchpad for continued education.
Dr. Kim Dunbar is a proven leader and is well respected by her team, her university, and the larger scientific community. She was honored as a Davidson Professor of Science in 2004 and achieved the distinction of being the first female chair-holder of the Davidson Chair in Science. Dunbar has also been named a Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, Texas A&M University’s highest academic faculty rank, and received the ACS Award for Distinguished Service in the Advancement of Inorganic Chemistry among a range of other accreditations. Leading the Dunbar Research Group, she contributes to the knowledge of inorganic chemistry in labs, facilities, and educational institutions all over the globe.
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.”