Kim Bassett & Dean Harman
A group practice
Posted July 2005
Photo by Mark Mitchell.
Meeting frequently, sometimes daily, is the routine for graduate student Kim Bassett and chemistry professor Dean Harman. Once a week, Harman’s lab assembles for a group meeting. “It’s an opportunity for us to see where we stand as a group and to learn from one another,” Harman said. “Modern science is necessarily a group activity.” Everyone in the group shares progress and uses the occasion to bounce ideas off one another. “For me, this is a critical part of my education,” Bassett said. “When I make a presentation, I’m asked really good questions. It strengthens my work by encouraging me to rethink my assumptions.”
Harman, whose research group specializes in developing new methods to create molecules, is interested in the special qualities of the heavy metals tungsten and osmium. A single atom from either metal, applied to an organic molecule, makes the molecule much more chemically reactive.
Bassett has begun investigating the effects of these two elements on aromatic molecules. “Aromatic molecules are unusually stable,” she said. “By making them reactive, we open the way for their possible use in pharmaceuticals.”