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SMC professor named Cottrell Scholar

| Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Dr. Kathryn Haas, assistant professor of chemistry and physics at Saint Mary’s, was named a 2016 Cottrell Scholar by the Research Corporation for Science Advancement in February. The Cottrell Scholar program awards $100,000 to 24 scientists to support research and teaching efforts, the program website stated.

The money from the award will allow her to hire undergraduate students to work during the summer, providing them with research opportunities, Haas said.

“It’ll allow me to purchase equipment and materials that I need — chemistry costs a lot of money. It’ll also help me to travel and to pay for students to travel as well,” she said. “For example, last summer I went to Stanford to use their synchrotron, and it was such a cool experience in this really awesome research environment, and I want to bring students there. This grant is going to allow me to do just that.”

Haas said receiving the award has been “very validating.”

“It’s amazing to be part of this community of people that are focused on science education,” she said. “I have access to some amazing mentors and networks that I would never have had without this recognition. I feel like I am part of a community that’s really changing science education in the world, and I’m doing it from Saint Mary’s College. We’re doing a lot of good things here, and it’s finally bringing light to that, so it feels really good.”

Haas said her research focuses on copper’s interaction with the human body.

“I studied copper in graduate school, and my background is in studying how metals interact with biological systems, particularly how they affect human health,” Haas said. “Copper is an essential element, and I just kind of fell in love with it. I’ve been studying it ever since.”

Haas said she is looking forward to expanding her research and sharing her findings with the public.

“We will publish our finding in journals,” Haas said. “Copper is involved with diseases, antibiotics and it’s essential for every single cell to live. So, we are trying to understand how our body works.”

Haas said she hopes her continued research will shed light on how the body’s cells and proteins work to handle copper.

“Copper has broader applications in things, like understanding antibiotic activity and understanding neurodegenerative diseases, but also in any kind of genetic disorder that is related to the misdistribution of copper,” she said.

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