The Fulbright Program is the top international educational exchange program sponsored by the United States government, and is aimed at increasing mutual understanding between Americans and people of foreign countries.

Sykes and his research group are investigating chemical systems that fluoresce brightly when electrons are added to specific molecules in the presence of metal cations. The interaction of light and the simultaneous addition/subtraction of electrons is called spectroelectrochemistry. The researchers are trying to develop sensors that can detect specific cations that are of particular environmental or biological concern. Sykes says the chemists at Lancaster University are experts in electrochemistry and have the advanced instruments needed for this type of collaboration.

“Besides conducting research, part of my duties will be to travel to different universities within the United Kingdom and present our work, which will also include stories and pictures of what it is like living on the northern Great Plains,” Sykes said. “I think the Fulbright is recognition that important science is ongoing in South Dakota, and that collaboration, even at the international level, is important for the advancement of science.”

Sykes graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1990 with a Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry. His research interests focus on fluorescence sensors and single-crystal X-ray crystallography.

Lancaster University, located in northwestern England, is a research university of about 12,000 students. The university admitted its first students in 1964 and today offers more than 280 undergraduate degrees along with post-graduate programming.

Download a photo of Sykes.

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