Colorado State University Chemistry Professor Receives Senior Humboldt Research Award

A Colorado State University research chemist recently joined colleagues in Germany to continue her investigations on the use of oxometalates and their interactions in biological systems. The research can be quite useful for scientists because oxometalates can mimic some of the properties of key biological building blocks and can provide vital information in the treatment of diabetes.

Debbie C. Crans, professor of chemistry, will join other distinguished Humboldt Research Award recipients from all over the world to help promote international research cooperation. The sabbatical will last between four months and one year.

"I have not previously had a time away where I could embark on scientific work in a relaxed atmosphere," Crans said. "The sabbatical in Germany will teach me more about the chemistry of these (transition metal) compounds, give me access to some of the best synthetic chemists in the area and prepare me to move forward with such projects when I return to Colorado State."

Her work is being conducted at the University of Bielefeld, Germany, in collaboration with her host, Achim Müller. Müller, a leading German scholar and professor, nominated Crans for the award because of her exceptionally recognizable research in chemistry.

The Humboldt Research Award, which ranges from $10,000-$70,000, is provided by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and was established by the Federal Republic of Germany. The award enables highly qualified scholars to spend extended time in Germany and also serves to promote academic contacts. Crans specializes in monitoring oxometalates, which are unusually large molecules, and their interactions in biological systems. Oxometalates are still discrete molecules, but are large enough to be used as models for viruses because they are the same size as enzymes and proteins. Crans’ other area of research at Colorado State is the investigation of transition metal complexes for the treatment and possible cure for diabetes. A 1999 Humboldt Award recipient was Colorado State scientist George Barisas, professor of chemistry and microbiology.