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Zhang named 2010 Baich Award Winner

Dr. Huichun (Judy) Zhang
has been named the 2010 Annette and Henry Baich Award Winner for her STEP proposal titled "Veterinary Pharmaceuticals: Reductive Transformation and QSARs Development." The Baich Award is given annually to the most outstanding STEP grant proposal for basic research conducted within the parameters of the Sigma Xi Society. Disciplines include such fields as the physical sciences, life and medical sciences, earth science, engineering, psychology or mathematics.

Dr. Zhang is an Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Environmental Science, and has been at SIUE since 2008. Her profile includes expertise in environmental organic chemistry, redox chemistry, kinetics and mechanisms, contaminants, and wastewater treatment. Her winning STEP proposal, called "Veterinary Pharmaceuticals: Reductive Transformation and QSARs Development," explores the contamination caused by veterinary pharmaceuticals exposed to aquatic environments. Dr. Zhang and her team propose new ways to investigate the ultimate fate of these pharmaceuticals in water.

According to the proposal, the pharmaceuticals will be grouped and studied according to their similar structural characteristics. The study will "provide a systematic understanding of the reductive behavior of a variety of VPs [veterinary pharmaceuticals] containing carbon-nitrogen double bonds - a common structural moiety in many VPs." Investigators will seek to understand the reduction kinetics of the model compounds; develop quantitative structural-activity relationships (QSARs) between molecular descriptors; and evaluate the ability of the QSARs to predict the reduction kinetics of the pharmaceuticals and other similar contaminants. According to Dr. Zhang, "this knowledge will yield fundamental insight into the factors governing the kinetics, and thus, be the basis for more accurate estimates of environmental fate, leading to a more accurate environmental risk assessment for this group of VPs." Dr. Zhang hopes that this research will develop models that will open up research to better understand the ultimate impact certain chemical compounds have upon the environment.

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