Portland State Professor Carl Wamser first became interested in chemistry because of magic shows. At least, that’s what they appeared to be. Growing up in New York City, Wamser and his neighborhood friends would gather around Wamser’s father as he performed chemistry tricks–like mixing chemicals to change the color of a solution.
Portland State Professor Carl Wamser first became interested in chemistry because of magic shows.
At least, that’s what they appeared to be.
Growing up in New York City, Wamser and his neighborhood friends would gather around Wamser’s father as he performed chemistry tricks–like mixing chemicals to change the color of a solution.
Many years later, the passion for chemistry Wamser developed while watching his father’s shows is still running high. Now, instead of just viewing experiments, Wamser is conducting his own scientific tests.
“Chemistry is something I enjoy,” Wamser said, “Because I can understand nature to the level of molecules and then apply it to something important, like energy.”
Wamser, 63, recently co-authored a paper with six students and two high school teachers that was published in the Journal of Porphyrins and Phthalocyanines.
The paper details how Wamser, his students and fellow scientists have been studying how altering the properties of solar cells can make a more efficient form of energy. Wamser said he and his research group are still fine-tuning the process to make the movement of energy more efficient.
“These could become plastic solar cells that could be applied to roofing shingles,” Wamser said. “They would be cheap, abundant and make a big difference in the world of energy.”
Wamser said once solar cells become an efficient source of energy, they will likely replace the silicon cells that are currently used to power many electronic devices.
“There is a lot of interest,” Wamser said about solar cells. “It’s very cutting edge.”
Mike Walter, a graduate chemistry student, has worked with Wamser for over five years.
“He’s a great mentor, because he is someone who knows what your strengths are and can help you develop them,” Walter said. “He really gives you the freedom to explore and become an independent researcher.”
Walter said that Wamser, who was honored as the Portland State Outstanding Scientist in 2002, is also an approachable professor that’s always willing to listen. Walter said Wamser also likes to give his two cents, however, even if some have trouble understanding it.
“He is very witty and has a great sense of humor,” Walter said. “He has this sense of humor that some people miss, especially his organic chemistry class. I think I understand it now, but some people are still scratching their heads.”
Wamser received his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Brown University and master’s degree in the same subject from California Polytechnic State University and has been a Portland State professor since 1983.
He enjoys spending his free time bird watching and hiking through Oregon’s forests and trails.