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Spring 2015

Inquiry Magazine Archive

  • Spring 2016

    Spring 2016: Premium Blend

    Found in everything from space shuttles to dental fillings, composite materials have thoroughly infiltrated modern society. But their potential is still greatly untapped, offering researchers ample opportunity for discovery.

  • Fall 2015

    Fall 2015: Collision Course

    Within the particle showers created at the Large Hadron Collider, answers to some of the universe’s mysteries are waiting.

  • Spring 2015

    Spring 2015: Almost Human

    Model systems like pigeons can help illuminate our own evolutionary and genomic history.

  • Fall 2014

    Fall 2014: Small Wonder

    UT Arlington's tiny windmills are bringing renewable energy to a whole new scale.

  • Winter 2014

    Winter 2014: Overdue for an Overhaul

    The stability of our highways, pipelines, and even manholes is reaching a breaking point.

  • 2012

    2012: Mystery solved?

    Scientists believe they have discovered a subatomic particle that is crucial to understanding the universe.

  • 2011

    2011: Boosting brain power

    UT Arlington researchers unlock clues to the human body’s most mysterious and complex organ.

  • 2010

    2010: Powered by genetics

    UT Arlington researchers probe the hidden world of microbes in search of renewable energy sources.

  • 2009

    2009: Winning the battle against pain

    Wounded soldiers are benefiting from Robert Gatchel’s program that combines physical rehabilitation with treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder.

  • 2009

    2007: Sensing a solution

    Tiny sensors implanted in the body show promise in combating acid reflux disease, pain and other health problems.

  • 2006

    2006:Semiconductors: The next generation

    Nanotechnology researchers pursue hybrid silicon chips with life-saving potential.

  • 2005

    2005: Imaging is everything

    Biomedical engineers combat diseases with procedures that are painless to patients.


The Chemistry of Conservation

Undergraduate student recognized for research in green chemistry 

John Gurak

John Gurak

The national conversation about sustainability usually includes topics like renewable energy, recycling, and carbon emissions. But when biochemistry senior John Gurak talks about sustainability, his focus is something else entirely: flavin catalysis.

Flavin catalysis is an environmentally friendly way of producing heterocyclic compounds, or heterocycles. While heterocycles are used in many fields, including pharmaceutical development and light-emitting diode manufacturing, the traditional chemical processes that produce them demand a lot of energy and have significant environmental impact. Flavin catalysis offers a metal-free alternative, as it operates at room temperature and uses air as fuel.

Gurak is currently working with Frank Foss, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry, on adapting riboflavin as a catalyst in the production of heterocycles. Their work falls into the area of “green chemistry,” an emerging field that seeks to reduce or eliminate the use and production of hazardous substances in chemistry.

“Green chemistry is a step toward a sustainable future,” Gurak says. “By implementing it whenever possible, we can effect a significant decrease in the amount of environmental pollution.”

For his research, Gurak was one of 33 scholars nationwide to be awarded a Greater Research Opportunities Fellowship from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Center for Environmental Research. He also interned at an EPA lab over the summer.

More articles from this issue

UT Arlington - Office of Research