As the USD award winner, his nomination was sent in for the 2023 Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools (MAGS) Distinguished Master's Thesis Awards.

“It is a great honor for me to be selected as USD’s Distinguished Master’s Thesis Award winner. This award is a big inspiration for me to remain diligent and work towards my dreams,” Fosu said. “Also, to have my nomination sent in for the MAGS Distinguished Master’s Thesis Awards is a very humbling experience for me. I am very grateful to my advisor, Bess Vlaisavljevich, the USD community and the state of South Dakota for recognizing my work.”

The purpose of the annual MAGS/ProQuest Distinguished Master’s Thesis Awards is to recognize and reward distinguished scholarship and research at the master’s level. These awards are presented in two of four categories that alternate every two years. The 2023 cycle categories are Social Sciences and Mathematics, Physical Sciences and Engineering.

A headshot of Samuel Fosu.

Fosu, a current Ph.D. materials chemistry student, will represent USD in the Mathematics, Physical Sciences and Engineering category for his thesis titled, “Understanding Reaction Mechanisms of Palladium and Copper Catalysts by Density Functional Theory.”

In his work, Fosu used a computational technique, called density functional theory, to understand how certain palladium catalysts can efficiently convert bio-based fatty acid derivatives into linear alpha olefins. Applying these computational methods, Fosu provided meaningful insights into future catalyst design for environmentally friendly processes. The work was done in collaboration with the National Science Foundation Center for Sustainable Polymers.

Bess Vlaisavljevich, Ph.D., assistant professor in chemistry, nominated Fosu for the award. “Sam wrote the draft of his thesis independently, and it required very little modification from my side. In fact, each of his chapters alone included sufficient research progress to obtain a degree. Through his thesis and presentation, he showed that he had truly developed himself as a scientist during his time as a master’s student, and I couldn’t be happier that he chose to work with me,” Vlaisavljevich said.

If selected as a MAGS Distinguished Master’s Thesis Award winner, Fosu will receive a $750 honorarium and a trip to accept the award at the MAGS 79th Annual Meeting in Chicago from March 29-31, 2023. Fosu will also be recognized by the USD community in April of 2023 at the President’s Celebration of University Leadership Awards.

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