Cottrell Science Award

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  July 28, 2004

Margie Yu
Public Affairs Specialist 
(323) 343-3047



Cal State L.A. 
Office of Public Affairs 
(323) 343-3050 
Fax: (323) 343-6405

For immediate release:
Cal State L.A. Chemistry Faculty Member
Receives Cottrell College Science Award

Los Angeles, CA -- Physical chemist Krishna L. Foster (Altadena resident), assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry at California State University, Los Angeles, was recently awarded a $42,603 Cottrell College Science Award by the Research Corporation, America’s first foundation for the advancement of science. Providing advanced research opportunities for several undergraduate students, Foster’s grant supports laboratory studies on the affect of substrates on the kinetics of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) oxidation.

According to Foster, incomplete combustion processes, including the operation of diesel-powered vehicles, produce PAHs—carcinogenic chemicals that readily adsorb onto particles suspended in air. Chemical reactions initiated by sunlight remove PAHs from the environment, however the rates and mechanisms of these reactions on particles is poorly characterized. This is due in part to the absence of suitable analytical techniques to measure the products formed in these reactions. Foster indicates that the Cottrell College Science Award allows her and her students to develop sensitive and selective methods to measure PAH sunlight-induced reaction products, study the kinetics of these reactions in the laboratory, and identify the reaction products in environmental soil and water samples.

Foster, who received her Ph.D. from the University of Colorado, Boulder, is an expert in environmental chemistry and teaches classes on atmospheric, physical, and general chemistry. Her research activities, which have been published in professional journals and conference proceedings, are designed to investigate the effects of sunlight on pollutants at the air-water interface. She has mentored a number of undergraduate students who are recognized as exceptionally talented. She is also an associated faculty member of the National Science Foundation-funded CEA-CREST (Center for Environmental Analysis) Program on campus.

Instituted in 1971, the Cottrell College Science Awards are named in honor of Frederick Gardner Cottrell, the scientist, inventor, philanthropist and Research Corporation founder. The Cottrell Awards are awarded on the basis of scientific originality, significance, feasibility, and the ability of the institutional environment to sustain the activity. These awards challenge faculty to explore new areas of science, to make new discoveries that contribute to their discipline and to initiate new research programs that can be sustained by other extramural funding sources, as well as with institutional support. A key element in all such research programs is that they involve undergraduate students in meaningful ways.

Research Corporation is a private foundation that aids basic research in the physical sciences (mainly astronomy, chemistry and physics) at U.S. and Canada colleges and universities. Research Corporation supports ideas independently proposed by college and university faculty members and carries on activities related to science advancement.

WORKING FOR CALIFORNIA – California State University, Los Angeles: A comprehensive university at the heart of a major metropolitan city. The 175-acre hilltop campus is located five miles east of Los Angeles’ civic and cultural center. Since 1947, Cal State L.A. has been a leader in providing quality higher education. Today, the campus comprises a faculty of internationally recognized scholars and artists, and more than 21,000 students with a wide variety of interests, ages and backgrounds that reflect the city’s dynamic mix of populations. Cal State L.A. is one of 23 campuses in the CSU system.

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