A Love Letter for Black History Month: St. Elmo Brady, the first Black Ph.D. chemist in the United States

Orange banner showing a portrait of young Black man with text "The Power of I"

As we come to the end of Black History Month for 2022, I find myself contemplating the banner that hangs year-round in front of Noyes Chemistry Lab to celebrate one of the shining stars of my own department at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC): St. Elmo Brady. Dr. Brady was the first African-American …

What is Aqua Regia, and what makes it royal?

Aqua regia, latin for “royal water”, is a fascinating, dangerous, and useful liquid that some of us in the Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology use on a regular basis. As I learned how to use this powerful material for my research, I started to wonder: What makes it royal? It turns out that aqua regia can …

Bog bodies: the chemistry behind natural embalming

Can you imagine being able to look at a body that is 2,700 years old and know what that person had for dinner? Many people are familiar with mummification, a form of corpse preservation. Probably the most famous type of mummification is the Egyptian process, a ritual that took 70 days. It required the removal …