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Chemistry Concentrator Francesca DiMare Named Fulbright Student

Announcements- - By Wendy Plump

Senior Francesca DiMare, an undergraduate member of the Chirik Lab in the Department of Chemistry, has received a Fulbright Award through the U.S. Student Fulbright Program.

A chemistry concentrator, DiMare will work with Ola Wendt, professor of chemistry at Lund University in Sweden, where she’ll pursue research in sustainable chemistry developing dehydrogenation catalysts for hydrogen storage applications.

Fulbrighters typically propose their own projects to work with advisors at foreign universities.

Francesca DiMare

Francesca DiMare, ’23, chemistry concentrator and newly minted Fulbright Scholar.

Photo courtesy of Francesca DiMare

“Chemistry touches every aspect of our lives, so it’s going to be fundamental to these big sustainability questions the world is trying to address,” said DiMare. “There’s so much potential to make chemical processes more sustainable, like the work Paul Chirik’s group does with base metal catalysis. When I was looking for research projects, I wanted to continue working at the intersections of chemistry and sustainability, and Sweden is arguably one of the best places to do sustainability related research because of their world leadership in the area.”

“The sustainable energy transition that the world needs to undergo is going to require new methods of large-scale energy storage, since solar and wind are both intermittent power sources. Using hydrogen as an energy carrier is a potential approach to that problem. To make use of hydrogen’s high gravimetric energy density, one promising idea is to store hydrogen in liquid materials. Achieving this will require the development of dehydrogenation catalysts compatible with continuous flow conditions, which is the work that I will be doing with Professor Wendt.”

Fulbright Students are chosen annually after a rigorous application process that considers academic prowess, project feasibility, and personal leadership qualities. The program is administered by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The Program supports cultural exchange through academic connections in partnership with over 140 countries around the world.

DiMare was notified of her Fulbright award while on vacation with her mother in Europe during spring break. Over a couple of hours that evening, the pair quickly altered their travel plans to include a trip to Lund and a visit to Wendt’s lab. In Lund the next day, DiMare was able to meet with her Fulbright advisor and see the city she’ll be living in for the nine-month duration of her award.

“Chemistry touches every aspect of our lives, so it’s going to be fundamental to these big sustainability questions the world is trying to address."

Chirik, who mentors DiMare’s thesis research, Designing Cobalt Catalysts for C(sp2)-C(sp3) Suzuki-Miyaura Cross-Coupling Reactions, said she is destined to be a highly impactful scientist.

“She came to our group with interests in sustainable chemistry and has joined our collaboration with Bristol Myers Squibb focused on the discovery of cobalt catalysts for carbon-carbon bond formation,” said Chirik. “Through careful experimentation and dedication, she discovered optimized catalysts to assemble a subunit of a drug molecule.”

“I have no doubt she will make the most of this unique opportunity and use it as a springboard to new heights in graduate school.”

DiMare is also earning certificates in Environmental Studies and Sustainable Energy. She is co-president of Princeton’s Chemical Society, served as a project manager for the Engineers Without Borders Kenya Team, works on campus as an EcoRep and as a Peer Academic Adviser, and is a member of the Princeton dance troupe Raqs as well as the Princeton Aerial Arts Club. She grew up in Brockton, Massachusetts.

Upon her return to the United States after her Fulbright, DiMare intends to pursue a Ph.D. in chemistry.