NOVONIX Future Innovators

Summer Research Positions in Chemistry

NOVONIX Battery Technology Solutions has provided funding for full-time employment for high school students to conduct scientific research during the summer in Chemistry Laboratories at Dalhousie University. Students interested in applying should refer to the application instructions.

The following is a listing of supervisors who are offering NOVONIX Future Innovators projects in Chemistry, along with project titles and descriptions.

Dr. Alan Doucette  -  Doucette Lab Website
Professor of Chemistry

Protein purification, separation and analysis by mass spectrometry
There has been a recent explosion in the development of protein-based pharmaceuticals.  Last year, over half of the new drugs approved by the FDA were antibody or peptide based compounds.  Analytical chemists are in high demand in industry – particularly those with skills in advanced instrumentation such as liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry.

Our lab works in the field called proteomics, which deals with the large scale analysis of proteins from biological sources.  We specialize in the development of improved analytical instruments and/or strategies to better characterize the samples.  Mass spectrometry (MS) is our detector, but we need many more pieces to be in place.  GELFrEE is a commercial device developed in my lab to separate proteins ahead of mass spectrometry (Google it to find out more!).

Right now, we’re working on a new strategy to purify proteins – a device we like to call Transmembrane Electrophoresis, or TME for short. TME uses electric fields to drive contaminants through a porous membrane, leaving the now clean proteins behind.  Our prototype design has already proven incredibly effective, but we think a re-design of this instrument would allow it to work even better. In particular, we’d like to couple TME, + GELFrEE + MS.  This all-in-one platform would have unprecedented ability to characterize proteins. But we can’t test it until we build it first.

The successful student will gain skills in:
Bioanalytical Chemistry/ Proteomics / Electrophoresis/ Mass Spectrometry / Instrument Design/ Engineering / Research Communication.  Don’t worry if you don’t have experience with machining/ electronics.  You’ll have lots of help, and the whole point of this project is to learn new skills.

Dr. Mark Obrovac  -  Obrovac Lab Website

Professor of Chemistry - Cross-appointed with Physics

Metal-Ion Battery Materials Chemistry
The Obrovac lab designs and synthesizes highly engineered materials (nanostructured materials, core/shell particles, metallic glasses, etc.) for lithium-ion, sodium-ion and multivalent metal batteries for use in grid storage and electric vehicles. New metal-ion battery chemistries have the potential to store significantly more energy than conventional lithium-ion battery materials, at similar or even lower cost.

The successful student will gain skills in:
Materials design, nanostructured materials synthesis, mechanochemical synthesis, mechanofusion, topotactic reactions, electron microscopy, x-ray diffractometry, Mössbauer spectroscopy, electrochemical methods, battery assembly and testing, electrolyte characterization.

Dr. Laura Turculet - Turculet Lab Website
Professor of Chemistry

Transition metal catalysts play a key role in facilitating chemical processes that convert abundant raw material resources into value-added products (pharmaceuticals, flavors, fragrances, etc.) in an efficient, selective manner. Chemists have long focused on developing homogeneous catalysts that utilize scarce precious metals such as Pd, Pt, Rh, and Ru. Despite their efficacy, such catalysts are limited by their decreasing availability, and associated high cost. Mining and processing of ores containing such metals is also highly energy intensive, generating large CO2 emissions. Faced with the pressing need to develop increasingly sustainable synthetic processes, interest in the reactivity of Earth abundant metals, such as Mn, Fe, Co, and Ni has grown significantly, with the goal of discovering new, effective catalysts to complement, and possibly supplant, precious metal based technology. While nature has utilized Earth abundant metals such as Fe almost exclusively for catalyzing chemical reactivity, harnessing this reactivity has proven challenging in the laboratory. In this regard, research in the Turculet lab targets the development of new classes of broadly useful, sustainable metal catalysts for atom economical alkene and alkyne hydrofunctionalization, a class of widely used reactions for converting such feedstocks into consumer products.