This summer, Gabrielle finds herself away from Alabama and in Buehler Hall at the University of Tennessee. She is one of eight outstanding students selected by the University of Tennessee for this year’s Summer Undergraduate Research Program in chemistry, which is funded by the National Science Foundation.
“I was always encouraged to be a doctor when I was younger,” she explains. “I set my sights on becoming a Cardiologist and, after getting the opportunity to watch an open-heart surgery at Johns Hopkins, I know exactly where I want to go to school and what I want to do with my future.”
A member of Gamma Sigma Sigma, Gabrielle studies chemistry at ASU. She is now working with Professor Craig Barnes and his doctoral student researchers, studying and researching hydrosilylation, a process that helps build catalysts.
“I love that UT gives people the opportunity to do this kind of research. The people are great, the labs are perfect, and I’ve learned so much in so little time,” Gabrielle says, regarding her stay at UT-Knoxville. “Though my school teaches its students all the same things, too, you normally don’t get to learn them until you’re older. So it’s nice to get to learn them a bit earlier by participating in this program.”
Gabrielle’s research plays a significant role in helping Dr. Barnes’ research group study ways to make more efficient catalysts. Creating a building block out of ionic liquids, Gabrielle can build her catalyst through hydrosilylation. This process is much more simple than it sounds and is similar to making a bowl of cereal—by mixing two independent things together, milk and cereal, a combination all its own is created.
“The catalysts we’re building break down cellulose,” Gabrielle explains. “Then they can utilize renewable resources for bio energy, bio fuels, and other biodegradable chemicals.” Gabrielle is helping Dr. Barnes’ group create catalysts that could potentially have huge impacts on the future. By creating more efficient catalysts that can utilize renewable resources, the Barnes group could find a way to create more efficient bio fuels that could lay the ground for more research into the subject of alternative fuels and recycling measures.
Gabrielle Webber hopes to attend graduate school at either Alabama State University for chemistry or Alabama A&M for mathematics. She then plans on attending medical school at Johns Hopkins University to become a Cardiologist.
Dylan Platz is Sigma Tau Delta president at University of Tennessee, Knoxville and Junior, Senior STC-ETC student liaison.