A Northwest student participated in a prestigious chemistry research internship at the University of Kansas, having been selected from a list of worldwide applicants looking to implement knowledge and skills to specific studies.
Senior Delaney Lynam, a chemistry major from Omaha, Nebraska, was one of 95 who KU chose from thousands of applicants around the world to conduct focused research at its yearly Chemistry Research Experience for Undergraduates.
KU hosts REU every summer, an internship funded by the National Science Foundation. Lynam’s sector consisted of a group of 10 to 12 students, where her research consisted mostly of computational chemistry – the use of a computer program to study a specific compound.
“We used a modeling program to study a compound, and then we would give that information to the experimentalists who would then test things like whether it would react or not,” Lynam said. “Our goal was to use it to produce hydrogen and look at hydrogen as a renewable fuel source, as opposed to fossil fuels which produce carbon dioxide.”
Lynam and her group studied the properties of Rhodium (III) complexes which can participate in a catalytic cycle to produce hydrogen. She focused on studying how this could be used as a clean renewable resource and provided information to others to conduct experiments testing the innovative idea.
According to KU, each participant in the summer internship program receives a competitive stipend plus full room and board and a travel allowance, a total value of approximately $8,800.
Lynam applied to eight programs the previous year and came up empty, but after applying to just six in 2019, she knew her efforts weren’t all for nothing.
“I remember getting the email; I was up in Fine Arts practicing,” Lynam said. “I called my mom, and I was so excited I ran to Garrett-Strong to tell my adviser.”
A devoutly involved member of music ensembles on campus, Lynam keeps herself busy with her second great passion: making music with her friends every day.
As a non-music major, she is one of the most involved students in ensembles, holding the position of principal trumpet in the Northwest Wind Symphony, section leader of the mellophones in the Bearcat Marching Band and plays for the trumpet section in the studio jazz band.
Lynam, who attends Northwest with a trumpet scholarship, also won the Northwest Concerto Competition last spring, being the first non-music major to do so.
Having every weekday planned out by the hour, Lynam still finds time to squeeze in trumpet lessons with Northwest’s Dennis C. Dau Endowed Professor of Instrumental Music William Richardson.
“Her internship this summer at the University of Kansas is a big deal,” Richardson said. “She’s very organized, a really, really great student, and she’s good at setting priorities for herself and what she thinks is best for her academic and musical career.”
Lynam maintains a 4.0 GPA and is continuing her research during the fall 2019 semester. She strives to earn a PhD studying theoretical chemistry, which is largely math based research in the field.
“Because my research was done all on a computer, my faculty mentor at KU gave me the opportunity to continue my research this semester,” Lynam said. “The hope is to eventually write a paper over all that I have done, which will help my applications into graduate school.”
Lynam said her advisor Richard Toomey helped her tremendously in the process of applying for internships, recognizing his support as a great push in the right direction.
Toomey had Lynam in his General Chemistry II class and has known her since her freshman year. He recognized her as a humble individual with a thorough understanding of chemistry and personal independence.
Lynam won the 2019 Undergraduate Award in Physical Chemistry for Northwest April 6, where she was recognized for outstanding performance by the American Chemical Society.
Toomey said she was deserving of the award and that her hard work ethic manifests not only in the classroom, but as a person.
Lynam is expected to graduate in May 2020 with an American Chemical Society certified Bachelor of Science in chemistry.