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Alumna Dr. Dahlia Haynes Receives Prestigious UNCF/Merck Postdoctoral Fellowship

Jul 26, 2012

Dr. Dahlia Haynes, ’03, has been awarded a highly competitive UNCF/Merck Postdoctoral Science Research Fellowship worth potential up to $85,000 to research solar energy conversion.

Haynes is currently a postdoctoral research associate at Carnegie Mellon University.  She arrived at Claflin in 2001 after transferring from Rutgers University.  Before graduating the University two years later, she was doubtful about what to do next.

But Department of Chemistry Chair Dr. Angela Peters and the late Dr. Shingara Sandhu, a professor emeritus who served the institution for 36 years, Haynes says the outlook for the future became much clearer.

“They gave me the confidence to take on graduate school.  The small family at Claflin was necessary for the type of person I was then.  It helped me succeed with the one-on-one attention I received,” said Haynes, who graduated in the top 10 percent of her class at the University.  Haynes was a member of the campus section of the American Chemical Society and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

She later received a Ph.D. in organic chemistry/polymer science from Clemson University in 2008.  There, she conducted research on renewable resources material. 

The UNCF/Merck Fellowship she received is only awarded to nine other postdoctoral scholars nationally.  She will be mentored by a representative of Merck, one of the world’s pharmaceutical companies.

With her current position at Carnegie Mellon, Haynes is investigating materials that can convert energy – i.e. solar power – to electricity or light.  Thus far, she says the fellowship will greatly assist in this research and allow her to make great networking connections with those in the research and development industry.

“This fellowship is impressive also because you come into contact with a variety of people who are willing to help – who have much interest in your career development,” she said.  “These are priceless connections that you can keep for the rest of your life.”

She noted that Merck officials will analyze her research and assist in possibly procuring further funding for it.  In the future, she plans to continue in academia as a professor conducting research at a high level institution.

“I love science, the process of inventing new things and having them work,” she says.

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