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UAM's New Queen of Cotton

Todd Kelley
Managing Editor

    Nestled in the C-Wing of the Science Center, Martha Baskett, one of two new chemistry professors, looks for future uses of cotton.

Photo by Eric Bell
New Professor Martha Baskett smiles as she works in the Science Center. The School of Math & Sciences hired Baskett as a new chemistry professor.

   Baskett, the wife of a Lake Village cotton farmer, says she spins, weaves and dyes in her spare time and smiles as she relates her hobby back to her passion for chemistry. 

   Born in New York City, Baskett’s life and education have taken her around the country. Baskett studied first as an undergraduate working on a geography B.S. in Chicago, then to UAM for a B.S. in chemistry and finally to post-grad work in Amherst, Mass.

   Baskett’s love for chemistry began in junior high school, and though she got “side-tracked” in college, time brought chemistry back to the fore.

   “The teachers and research projects here re-sparked my interest,” Baskett said.

   In the past Baskett worked on many projects and with famous professors from her disciplines. She worked with Professor Fujita, co-creator of the Fujita-Pearson Scale used to classify tornado power based on wind force.

   The focus of her research has been the design and synthesis of molecular magnetic materials to coordinate paramagnetic ions with organic open-shell molecules. The reason was to create “hybrid” materials with mixtures of spin sites.

   Since the properties of molecular assemblies (such as crystals) are directly affected by structure, it is of value to attempt to predict and synthetically control that structure through rational design methods.

   “These magnetic materials might be used for understanding and utilization of electronic properties,” Baskett said.

   At UAM, Baskett proposes to do research work with cellulosic cotton.

   “Smart fabrics that exhibit a response to an external stimulus have multiple applications as detectors for chemical and biological agents,” Baskett said. “Cotton is an excellent candidate for the support fabric because hydroxyl groups on the cellulose polymer backbone provide sites for surface functionalization.”

   Baskett says her research could functionalize cellulosic cotton with detectors that might provide early warning response devices for protection from hazardous agents.


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ŠThe Voice 2007
01/13/2008 03:18:42 PM —