URI undergrad wins research award at chemistry conference

KINGSTON, R.I. – October 26, 2012 – University of Rhode Island senior Cameron Frament has been named one of six recipients of a distinguished undergraduate research award, which will be presented at the 2012 Eastern Analytical Symposium, a prestigious conference for analytical chemists. The award will be presented on Nov. 12.

A resident of Warwick, Frament was nominated for the award by URI Assistant Professor Jason Dwyer, with whom Frament has been conducting research for three years.

“This award is really a recognition of Cameron’s creativity, interest, drive, skill, collegiality and passion for science, and of his performance, not just as an ‘undergraduate researcher’ but as a researcher,” said Dwyer. “Cameron is a promising researcher making impressive contributions to research aimed at better understanding, from the level of a single molecule, the world around us.”

Frament enrolled at URI as a chemistry, physics and math major after earning a full scholarship for winning the Rhode Island High School Chemistry Contest in 2008.

“Cameron made an early impression through his stellar performance in the chemistry competition, and, since matriculating, his academic work has earned him a number of academic prizes,” Dwyer said. Frament was one of two winners of the URI Undergraduate Student Research Award last spring, and he was the recipient of a research grant from the University in 2011.

The research Frament is conducting supports Dwyer’s efforts to fabricate tiny biomedical devices whose active elements are no larger than a single molecule.

“We’re building nanopores, tiny holes 10-times the size of an atom in a rigid membrane,” Frament explained. “It’s essentially a sensor with all sorts of interesting applications, like sequencing DNA really fast. I’m mostly writing code and simulating experiments and doing a very detailed study of one property of the pores. This work is in support of my colleagues who can rely on this understanding while experimentally exploring unknown phenomena.”

Frament said he likes this project in part because his role is a combination of chemistry and physics, a discipline about which he feels he has better intuition.

“I’ve always liked the sciences, especially physics, but the chemistry competition gave me this amazing opportunity that I couldn’t turn down,” he said. “I’m glad this project has allowed me to work more on the physics side than I would have if I were working in the lab all day.”

Frament credits his early research success with having completed 46 college credits while still in high school.

“That allowed me to have much more freedom, so I jumped right into junior and senior level classes and got going on the research from there,” said Frament, who adds that he is grateful for the numerous scholarships and grants he has been awarded since arriving on campus.

His next step is to apply to graduate school on his way to earning a doctorate in physics and a career in industry or academia.

“I really could go either way,” he said. “It all depends on how my graduate school career goes. My interests might change between now and then.”

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