Nicholls chemistry professor received a patent for postdoctoral research


Photo submitted by Jacob Batte

Nicholls chemistry professor, Dr. Uttam Pokharel received a patent for postdoctoral research in conjunction with Louisiana State University.

Pokharel, who began teaching at Nicholls in the spring of 2015, recently discovered a process that converts environmental pollutants into useful organic molecules.

Pokharel conducted his postdoctoral research at LSU and said he discovered that the synthesized molecule they were working with was reacting with carbon dioxide.

Pokharel said his team noticed that their molecules were reacting with the carbon dioxide and selectively absorbing it, converting it into an organic molecule. This is very significant in the sense that one is taking a waste product from the environment and converting it into something useful.

A patent was then issued for Pokharel’s project.

Pokharel said converting environmental pollutants into something useful, in simpler terms, adds value to materials.

Pokharel also said they are still trying to understand more. He is still in collaboration with LSU, and they sometimes meet to discuss this research.

As a whole, Pokharel said his research matters because both he and his students are delving into an unexplored part of chemistry with the hope of benefitting the future. He said he involves a few students in his research and stresses the importance of their participation.

“Nicholls Chemistry has a mission to provide the best education to all students and mentor our chemistry majors to be the best doctors, pharmacists, researchers, problem-solvers and of course, chemists. They serve the state of Louisiana as they go about changing the world,” Chad Young, head of the chemistry department said.

These students gain experience, a better understanding of research and learn the importance of chemistry, how it can help to solve societal problems. Pokharel stressed the importance of understanding the basic tools of research, which is something he said goes beyond just academics.

“Mentored student research is a highlight of our program and Uttam Pokharel is one of our best mentors,” Young said. “His students make wonderful advances in organometallics to benefit the scientific community and the world.”