Cody Webb’s passion for science has brought him out of the classroom and into the laboratory – both in the U.S. and abroad.
Webb, who will graduate later this year with a chemistry degree, spent several weeks in early 2014 doing research on compounds that can potentially be used to store greenhouse gases attributed to global warming. He was part of a team that traveled to the Elettra Synchronton in Triestre, Italy, to collect data on those compounds, known as metal organic frameworks, and then to a lab in Graz, Austria, to begin analyzing the findings. Over the summer, he returned to both Triestre and Graz for 10 weeks to continue the research. (He's shown here working in the lab in Italy.)
During his time at Le Moyne, Webb is participating in a cooperative program (chemistry with a concentration in pre-engineering) that allowed him to study chemistry full-time at Le Moyne and chemical engineering part-time at Syracuse University. His work in Italy and Austria was under the guidance of Karin Ruhlandt, the interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Syracuse University and distinguished professor of chemistry.
The potential positive real-world applications of the research – and the practical experience it provided – drew him to the work.
“It was a huge opportunity,” said Webb of the chance to conduct research in Europe. “I couldn’t pass it up.”
He got his first taste of conducting research during the summer of 2013 when he participated in the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Research Experience for Undergraduates, a 10-week program where he initially started working in Dr. Ruhlandt's lab. He has presented his research results at a number of conferences, including a National American Chemical Society meeting in Dallas, Texas (he received a nationally competitive travel award from the NSF to present there). He was also the recipient of the American Institute of Chemists Student Medal Award, awarded by Le Moyne's Chemistry Department to the senior who demonstrates promise in the field.
He was supported in his efforts by Dr. Anna O’Brien, an associate professor at Le Moyne. "I worked hard in her lab to establish myself as a good chemist so that when the opportunity came up for another chemistry student to help conduct research with Dr. Ruhlandt, I was offered the position," said Webb. Dr. O'Brien was a graduate student of Dr. Ruhlandt's at Syracuse University.
"Cody is passionate about research and took advantage of outstanding research opportunities made available through collaborations locally and abroad to create an exciting, challenging, and rewarding experience for himself," said Dr. O'Brien. "He will enter graduate school with a strong research background and a good sense of what will be required to achieve his goal."
Webb credits his time at Le Moyne with helping him to “develop as a better student” and plans on pursuing a doctorate in chemistry at Syracuse University beginning next spring. From there, he doesn’t know if he’ll pursue a career in teaching or in private industry. Either way, research will continue to be a critical part of his work.
Webb's work was funded though a number of different sources, including Le Moyne College (through the Provost's Office, the Student Research Committee, and an O'Leary International Travel Award), an NSF REU grant, and Dr. Ruhlandt's Fulbright Fellowship, which funded the synchronton research work.