Amy Kallmerten, a grad­uate stu­dent in North­eastern University’s depart­ment of chem­istry and chem­ical biology, has received CEM Corporation’s 2009 M.J. Collins Award for out­standing research by a stu­dent in the field of microwave chem­istry. The award, pre­sented to one researcher each year, rec­og­nizes her research and inno­v­a­tive lab­o­ra­tory techniques.

Kallmerten received the award this week at the annual meeting of the Amer­ican Chem­ical Society in Wash­ington, D.C. She and her aca­d­emic sponsor Dr. Graham Jones, pro­fessor and chair of Northeastern’s depart­ment of chem­istry and chem­ical biology, share a $10,000 cash prize. The pair cur­rently employs microwave chem­istry in projects involving inves­ti­ga­tional drugs. Among her many accom­plish­ments, Kallmerten incor­po­rated a new microwave-​​accelerated lab­o­ra­tory method into a Parkinson’s dis­ease research project being con­ducted by 45 under­grad­u­ates at Northeastern.

Amy’s ded­i­ca­tion to fur­thering microwave chem­istry research and imple­menting con­tem­po­rary tech­niques into the cur­riculum is highly com­mend­able,” said Jones. “Her work at North­eastern exem­pli­fies the enthu­siasm needed to have a pro­found and sus­tained impact in the field.”

Kallmerten’s research focuses on using microwave tech­nology to pre­pare drugs whose dis­tri­b­u­tion throughout the body can be mon­i­tored. The microwave method chem­i­cally syn­the­sizes drugs that incor­po­rate a small dose of radioac­tivity. Imaging such as positron emis­sion tomog­raphy (PET scans) can then show where and how the drug has dis­persed. Con­ven­tional methods are often cum­ber­some, inef­fi­cient and slow, says Jones.

Kallmerten has adapted nearly every project in Jones’s lab­o­ra­tory to the more rapid microwave method. Because it is faster, the microwave method better safe­guards the integrity of the drugs—allowing prepa­ra­tion for dosing before they begin to decay sub­stan­tially, a major lim­i­ta­tion of con­ven­tional syn­thesis methods, explains Jones.

The award is named after Michael J. Collins, founder, CEO and pres­i­dent of CEM Cor­po­ra­tion, a leading provider of microwave lab­o­ra­tory instru­men­ta­tion. Collins advo­cates microwave energy for appli­ca­tions ranging from organic chem­istry to com­po­si­tional testing, and sup­ports devel­op­ment of new appli­ca­tions for the tech­nology. Collins cited Kallmerten’s “stead­fast curiosity and enthu­siasm for sci­ence,” calling her “an extremely tal­ented chemist who has a very bright future ahead” with “a great deal to con­tribute to the advance­ment of chemistry.”