Coblentz Student Awards

2020 Coblentz Student Awardee

Cynthia Pyles, University of Minnesota, Professor Aaron Massari
     Cynthia Pyles began her research career in physical and analytical chemistry at Boston University (BU). She used Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (SERS) to study the metabolomic behavior of samples including E. coli, T-cell leukemia, and cervical carcinoma cells. The data collected served as a spectral library for clinical diagnostics. In 2015, Cynthia received her B.A. in Chemistry with a minor in Japanese from BU. She began working with Dr. Aaron Massari in the spring of 2016 before starting graduate school at the University of Minnesota, and continued in his group for the duration of her graduate career.

     Cynthia specializes in two-dimensional infrared (2D-IR) spectroscopy. In her first year with the Massari group, she used 2D-IR to study the vibrational heavy atom effect: a phenomenon in which sufficiently heavy atoms in molecules hinder vibrational energy relaxation, which can have important consequences for isotopically labeled systems. After earning her M.S. in 2018, Cynthia’s focus shifted toward understanding the ultrafast dynamics of carbon dioxide gas dissolved in polymer films. She characterized vibrational lifetimes and reorientation times to determine how macroscopic properties like diffusion constants manifest on ultrafast timescales. Cynthia extended these findings toward the study of carbon dioxide in nanoporous structures.

     When she is not researching, Cynthia enjoys volunteering and public engagement. She worked extensively with adult learners in an English literacy course to refine their speaking and writing skills. Cynthia also volunteered for the Energy & U show as a fire safety volunteer, demonstrating the first law of thermodynamics to 3rd-6th grade students with lots of loud, exothermic reactions. For multiple summers, she led science experiments at “University on the Prairie”, a camp serving students in rural Minnesota who lack access to hands-on STEM learning opportunities. Most recently, Cynthia co-founded and launched “Grad to Grad: Mental Health Support” to address chemistry students’ mental health concerns by connecting students to virtual and in-person resources. 

Call for the 2021 Coblentz Student Awards and William G. Fateley Award

    The Coblentz Society has for many years encouraged young scientists to pursue studies in spectroscopy by seeking nominations of outstanding students for the Coblentz Student Awards. The awardees receive a copy of the Society's Desk Book, a certificate, and a year's membership in the Society. 

    The three leading graduate students selected by the Coblentz Award committee will automatically become candidates for the William G. Fateley student award that includes a plaque and a cash prize. No separate nomination for the Fateley award is required.

    The nominations window for Coblentz Student Awards closes February 15, 2021.  

    Nominations should be sent to the Chair of the Student Affairs committee at  

    Graduate or undergraduate students who have shown excellence in vibrational spectroscopy research and/or coursework including vibrational spectroscopy may be nominated. The nominator must be a member of the Coblentz Society (to become a member contact the Society Office or complete the online membership application).  

Requirements for a complete nomination:

  1. Curriculum Vitae of the nominee.  
  2. Biographical statement (300 words)
  3. One (1) letter of nomination from the supervisor 
  4. One (1) additional letter of recommendation 
  5. Abstract for a presentation at SciX 2020. 
    In previous years, all awardees were featured by having a photograph and a short bio in the SciX Final program. All awardees who attend SciX 2020 will be acknowledged in person at a presentation during the poster session on Sunday evening by the Coblentz Society president.

Past Awardees

2019 Coblentz Student Awardees

2018 Coblentz Student Awardees

2017 Coblentz Student Awardees

2016 Coblentz Student Awardees

2015 Coblentz Student Awardees

2014 Coblentz Student Awardees

2013 Coblentz Student Awardees

2012 Coblentz Student Awardees

2011 Coblentz Student Awardees

2010 Coblentz Student Awardees

2009 Coblentz Student Awardees