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Dr. Allyson Fry-Petit

Research Interests

The Fry-Petit lab is a solid state inorganic lab that focuses on rational material design. This is done by approaching the correlations between the structure and property of materials in three ways. The first aim of our research is to use data mining to better understand the structural driving forces of material properties. This data driven process guides our second aim of synthesis and characterization of materials, both novel and known. Results from data mining have shown that many structures that were structurally characterized previously are not fully understood; improvements in instrumentation will allow us to structurally characterize those materials and finally correlate their properties to structurally related materials. A foundation to understanding structure-property relations is correctly assigning the structure of a material which will be done using in house powder x-ray diffraction, synchrotron diffraction, and neutron diffraction. Optical and vibrational properties of the materials will be probed spectroscopically in house using reflectance, fluorescence, infrared, and Raman. The third aim is to continue the development of a vibrational probe, neutron dynamic pair distribution function analysis (DPDF). DPDF probes the local vibrations of a solid and recent results show that we can analyze the local vibrations with traditional symmetry mode analysis, making this previously complicated technique analogous to infrared and Raman techniques. DPDF measurements are taken by Dr. Fry-Petit and students at Oak Ridge National Lab.

Allyson Fry-Petit was drawn to the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at CSUF due to the opportunity to perform high quality research in an environment that values teaching. In the fall she greatly enjoyed setting up her solid state chemistry research lab and teaching Theory of Quantitative Analysis lecture and Quantitative Analysis laboratory. Fry-Petit finds the challenge of teaching to be rewarding; every student is different and helping them find lightbulb moments is what she strives for.

The synthetic portion of Fry-Petit’s materials chemistry research laboratory builds off of a variety of synthetic techniques that she learned at The Ohio State University and Johns Hopkins University where she did her doctoral and postdoctoral studies respectively, to create new polar, luminescent, and electrolyte materials. Her graduate studies, under Dr. Patrick Woodward, focused on controlling the ordering of polar building units toward designing ferroelectric materials. This work also spurred Fry-Petit’s interest in using data mining to expedite and streamline solid state synthesis.

While at Johns Hopkins University, Fry-Petit worked in the lab of Dr. Tyrel McQueen, whose appointment in both chemistry and physics departments provided Fry-Petit with valuable interdisciplinary experience. This atmosphere fostered Fry-Petit the opportunity to meld neutron physics with traditional chemistry group theory in her development of new techniques in the analysis of dynamic pair distribution function (DPDF) data. She is continuing the development of DPDF analysis tools and usage of DPDF at CSUF; this spring break Fry-Petit and 2 students will be traveling to Oak Ridge National Laboratory to study the most widely used commercial phosphor, YAG: Ce.

Fry-Petit also holds a Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry and Critical Thought and Inquiry from William Jewell College, where she learned that higher education is not just about the information obtained but also about the transition into being a life-long learner. This is a lesson she gleaned from her faculty mentors and one that she looks forward to imparting to her students, not only in class but also in the research lab.