Coblentz Student Awards

About the 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. 

Nominate someone for the 2022 award. 

2020 Coblentz Student Awardee – Cynthia Pyles

Cynthia Pyles

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. 

2009-2019 Coblentz Student Awardees

The Coblentz Society member who nominated the student is also listed.

2019 Coblentz Student Awardee

    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