Patrick garners prestigious ‘new investigator’ award

Amanda L. Patrick

Amanda L. Patrick

Amanda L. Patrick, an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry, now has funding from the American Chemical Society for her research on ionic liquids, which find use in areas ranging from chemical solvents for manufacturing to pharmaceutical preparations or spacecraft propellants.

Patrick’s $110,000 two-year grant from the ACS Petroleum Research Fund Doctoral New Investigator Award was awarded for her project -- “Investigating Ionic Liquid Thermal Stability and Degradation Pathways in the Gas and Liquid Phases via Mass Spectrometric Monitoring: Toward Better Predictive Power” -- as part of the ACS’s goal to enable investigators to initiate new research directions.

The Petroleum Research Fund established in 1944 by seven major oil companies now is managed by ACS, who support “advanced scientific education and fundamental research in the petroleum field.” The new investigator award is designed for tenure-track faculty at Ph.D.-granting institutions within three years of their first appointment. Complete details of ACS funding is available at

Dennis W. Smith, Jr., professor and head of MSU’s chemistry department, said Patrick’s research aims to extend gas-phase investigations on ionic liquids and compare their thermal degradation in the liquid phase.

“Ionic liquids are salts that are liquid at relatively low temperatures, like room temperature. By contrast, table salt doesn’t melt until about 800°C, or nearly 1,500°F. These special non-volatile liquid salts typically contain a cation—a positively charged bulky organic species,” Smith said. “Comparisons between their gas and liquid phase properties will lead to much needed improved fundamental understanding in this rapidly advancing field with exciting commercial growth opportunities.”

“It is our hypothesis that we will be able to gain insights into bulk thermal stability based on our gas phase measurements,” said Patrick, who will use the ACS funding to support undergraduate and graduate student researchers at MSU who will help implement the research.

“Given that recyclability and thermal stability are often touted as strengths of ionic liquids for applications ranging from solvents for chemical synthesis to next generation spacecraft propellants, the understanding of thermal stability at a more fundamental level will hopefully one day help us choose appropriate ionic liquids for specific tasks in a more targeted way,” Patrick said.

Patrick received her Ph.D. in analytical chemistry from the University of Florida and her bachelor’s degree in chemistry from North Carolina State University. In 2020, she received the prestigious Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU) Ralph Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award. Patrick is a member of the ACS, the American Society for Mass Spectrometry and the Phi Beta Kappa society.

More information about Patrick’s lab and research is available at

Part of MSU’s College of Arts and Sciences, complete details about the Department of Chemistry are available at

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at

Sarah Nicholas | College of Arts and Sciences

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