Office Hours with… Amymarie Bartholomew

In an interview, new faculty member Amymarie Bartholomew ’13 talks about materials chemistry and coming back to her alma mater.
Amymarie Bartholomew

Amymarie Bartholomew (Photo by Dan Renzetti)

Yale is where Amymarie Bartholomew learned to love the lab. Now she gets to pass that feeling forward — while pursuing new science in a lab of her own.

Bartholomew, an assistant professor of chemistry in Yale’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences, officially joined the faculty on Jan. 1, nearly a decade after receiving her undergraduate degree at Yale in the spring of 2013. In her research, she uses synthetic inorganic chemistry to design new materials with beneficial properties, such as sensing changes in light, temperature, pressure, and the presence of specific small molecules.

In the latest edition of “Office Hours,” a Q&A series that introduces new Yale faculty members to the broader community, Bartholomew discusses the new frontiers of materials chemistry and her decision to return to her alma mater.

Title Assistant professor of chemistry
Research interest Designing new materials using synthetic inorganic chemistry
Prior institution Columbia University
Started at Yale Jan. 1, 2023

What was it about your Yale undergraduate experience that revealed your affinity for lab work?

Amymarie Bartholomew: I started doing lab research the summer after my freshman year through the STARS [Science, Technology and Research Scholars] program and I just loved it. Being in the lab is very different from being in a chemistry course. Both are obviously very important to becoming a chemist, but the day-to-day experience of being in a lab is reflective of what graduate school is like.

There’s a certain solitude, but also a camaraderie, in being part of a synthetic chemistry lab. You have a lot of discussion, group culture, and bonding with other people in the lab, but the actual work of setting up and running reactions, making a first pass at analysis, you’re going to be doing by yourself.

I found it very appealing. Even if I just had homework to do and I was on Science Hill, I would go to the [Nilay] Hazari lab and hang out there doing my homework.

How would you describe your research?

Bartholomew: You can really think of it like a LEGO project. Let’s say you want to build a green and yellow house out of LEGOs. You’re going to look for blocks that are green, or yellow, and fit the design for your house. That’s what we do in my lab, but with chemistry. We take organic molecules and inorganic molecules and choose them for their desirable properties. Do they have the potential to be magnetic? Do they respond to sunlight or temperature? We assemble these pieces into a new material and then test the new material to see if it has the properties we wanted.

What would be an application for this type of material?

Bartholomew: Stimuli-responsive materials have a lot to offer in terms of energy efficiency, as one example. If we can build components that respond to stimuli of interest, we don’t need a complicated monitoring system for those things.

I would like to see us learn enough fundamental information about how to programmatically create stimuli-responsive materials that in 10 to 15 years we can build materials with almost any combination of responsive properties.

Was it ever in the back of your mind that you might return to Yale some day?

Bartholomew: I’m from Hamden. I can walk to Science Hill from my parents’ house. I love Hamden, New Haven, and Yale. So yes, I did think about coming back!

What is a hobby or outside interest of yours that might surprise people?

Bartholomew: I took a huge number of dance studies courses as an undergrad and I love to dance — mainly Irish step dancing and ballet. I even have a ballet barre in my apartment.

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