Jim Tranquada

Assistant professor of chemistry Andrew K. Udit has been awarded a two-year, $50,000 American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund Undergraduate New Investigator grant.


Undergraduate New Investigator grants have been specially designed to assist early-career faculty members to initiate research programs.

"While it is always a great privilege to receive any award, the ACS PRF Undergraduate New Investigator grant is particularly coveted, and I am greatly honored to have been awarded it," Udit said. "Faculty are only eligible to apply during the first three years of their first academic appointment--as such, the window of opportunity is narrow and easily missed. That I received the award on my first attempt is a tribute to both the stellar research environment at Occidental and the significance of the proposed project."

In deciding to offer Udit the award, the Society’s panel cited his "well-written proposal on an important topic," and the "timely" and "diverse" nature of the his research.

Udit’s work involves using enzymes to refine crude petroleum products into compounds that can be used to create such materials as better plastics and more efficient detergents. He plans to use the ACS funds to support undergraduate researchers in his lab and to purchase equipment for screening of the biocatalyst "libraries" that they will generate. "As the necessary instrumentation is expensive, the research is only now possible with the funds from the award," Udit said. "At a time when funds in general are not readily available given the current economic climate, this grant is an incredible opportunity that we will fully exploit."

The American Chemical Society is a congressionally chartered independent membership organization that represents professionals at all degree levels and in all fields of chemistry and sciences that involve chemistry. Founded in 1876, it is the world’s largest scientific society.