It’s one thing when you’re an undergraduate student to compete with others in your cohort. It’s another when the competition also includes graduate students. And it’s still another to win.

Hope College junior Ashley Trojniak of Sterling Heights won the “Outstanding Student Poster Award” in the COLL Student Poster Contest, held during the Aug. 20–24 National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS). She was the only undergraduate selected for an award and was chosen from among about 150 presenters, most of whom were graduate students.

“Ashley is an outstanding student and undergraduate researcher who represented herself, our research and Hope College well,” said Dr. Beth Anderson, associate professor of chemistry and Trojniak’s research mentor. “Visitors to her poster assumed she was a graduate student, asking how close she was to finishing. Upon learning she was an undergraduate, they started recruiting her for grad school.”

It is the second time in three years that one or more Hope researchers have won the recognition, which is presented by the ACS’s division of Colloid and Surface Chemistry, one of 32 technical divisions of the ACS. Brandon Bowser and Monica Ohnsorg, both of who graduated in 2016, won the prize for their poster presentation in 2015. All three students were working collaboratively with Anderson.

Trojniak was honored for her poster titled “Investigating surMOF thin film growth for sensing and storage applications,” a continuation of the research on which Bowser and Ohnsorg had also worked. Anderson, Ohnsorg and senior Landon Brower of Zeeland were co-authors on the research project.

The research explores the fundamental formation of metal-organic frameworks (MOFs), examining how they form and behave on different surfaces to better understand how they might be used most effectively in applications such as gas storage, chemical sensing and energy storage. The research is supported by the ACS-Petroleum Research Fund and National Science Foundation.

Trojniak is a chemistry and global French studies dual major at the college, and is spending the current fall semester studying in Natnes, France. She conducted research with Anderson during the summers of 2016 and 2017 and the intervening school year. Her activities at the college have also included participating in the Day1: Watershed program, which engages freshmen in original research beginning with their arrival on campus.

The American Chemical Society is the world’s largest scientific society, with nearly 157,000 members. The National Meeting and Exposition featured thousands of presentations on new discoveries in science, on topics including food and nutrition, medicine, health, energy, the environment and other fields in which chemistry plays a central role.