ISU chemist Jeffries-EL enjoying MLK Visiting Professorship even with the snow

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Malika Jeffries-EL

Her experience so far at Massachusetts Institute of Technology has been great, said Malika Jeffries-EL, except for one thing: snow, and lots of it in the Boston area.

Jeffries-EL is participating in MIT’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Visiting Professors and Scholars Program this spring and summer. The Iowa State chemist is one of seven 2014-15 visiting professors in the program.

The visiting professors and scholars, according to MIT, “enhance their scholarship through intellectual interactions with peers and enrich the intellectual life of the Institute with their participation in MIT research and academic programs.” Participants are nominated and chosen for their contributions to their academic fields and other criteria.

Jeffries-EL’s research looks at ways to develop organic semiconductors – materials with the processing properties of polymers and the electronic properties of semiconductors.

“Things have been going well, but slowly,” she said. “The massive snowstorms have closed the campus five days since I have arrived.” That means too many meetings and seminars were rescheduled or cancelled.

As of Monday, March 2, Boston had 103.9 inches of snow this season, according to WBUR radio. Two more snowfalls in the weather forecast should break the city’s record of 107.6 inches set in 1995-96. To put that in perspective, our average central Iowa seasonal snowfall is about 35 inches, says Bill Gallus in meteorology. We’ve received about 24 inches thus far this season – only six and half feet less than Boston’s total.

“I think it is a great opportunity for me to be immersed in a new environment, and I am already inspired to pursue some new research directions,” Jeffries-EL said. She has connected with some faculty members and hopes to make additional connections during her time in Cambridge, Mass.

She will be the MLK lunch seminar presenter at MIT April 15. Her presentation title is “Designing Materials for High-Tech Applications.” Let’s hope it doesn’t snow. – Steve Jones