Mariusz Kozik, PhD Department Chair / Professor of Inorganic Chemistry

Mariusz Kozik, PhD

PhD, Georgetown University 
(716) 888-2337

Teaching Interests

Teaching areas include general chemistry, inorganic, organometallic and bioinorganic chemistry. Research interests include the structures of polyoxometallates and their practical applications, most recently on carbon dioxide activation. Dr. Kozik is the 2008 recipient of the College of Arts and Sciences Faculty Service Award.

Research Interests

Current Research Projects

Since 1990, together with numerous undergraduate science majors (chemistry, biology, and physics) from Canisius College, I have developed a research program in the interdisciplinary area of novel practical applications of the group of inorganic compounds called polyoxometalates or heteropoly complexes. 

Modern applications of polyoxometalates range from areas of material science and photochemistry, to applications as antiviral and antitumor agents in medicine.  My group’s research, carried out exclusively in my laboratory at Canisius College, discovered two new novel applications of this group of compounds. Both are continued to be investigated in our laboratory with the possibility of developing novel practical applications. 

The first application is in the area of Magnetic Resonance Imaging, and the second one is in the area of transformation of carbon dioxide (an inorganic pollutant) into methane (fuel), leading to advances in such diverse fields as diagnostic medicine and environmental chemistry. Both projects have been supported to date by several grants from federal and private foundations, including the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Petroleum Research Fund, Research Corporation, and local industries. Several modern instruments necessary for this research have been purchased with these and other grant funds, leading to student exposure to sophisticated research methods.

My group has also been involved in the research in chemical education. We were able to explain the chemistry in a “Golden Penny Demonstration” a very popular demonstration used in thousands of colleges and high schools.

It needs to be emphasized that research in my laboratory with Canisius students is carried out in the environment, where it is being used primarily as a teaching tool. It often produces important and publishable results, butstudents' training is the most important goal. Most students work in my laboratory for at least three summers and some work during the academic year as well. Typically a student joins his research group as a freshman or sophomore and continues until graduation. The relationship between the professor and the students is that of the mentor and the apprentice. 

Research in the Area of Carbon Dioxide Activation

The main thrust of this project is to develop a new group of polyoxometalates, which by complexing carbon dioxide, would make it more reactive towards the process of its change into natural gas (CH4), therefore, making possible a transformation of an atmospheric pollutant into a fuel!  Research accomplished to date by my students at Canisius established that transition metal-substituted heteropoly anions, TMS HPA's, do indeed complex and activate carbon dioxide, when transferred from water to nonpolar solvents. The results of our research in this area to date have been published in Inorganic Chemistry (199837, 4344), as a chapter in the book “Polyoxometalate Chemistry for Nanocomposite Design” (Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2002, 205), and inJournal of Physical Chemistry B (2006110, 10576).

The reactions discovered by my students are very promising to be used in the direct transformation of carbon dioxide into methane, because the TMS HPA's besides complexing carbon dioxide and making it more susceptible for other reactions, can also accumulate large numbers of electrons. Therefore, TMS HPA's are expected to be capable of transferring these multiple electrons to carbon dioxide after CO2 is complexed to the TMS HPA, possibly leading to methane, which requires 8-electron reduction. 

Research in Magnetic Resonance Imaging

To date our MRI research led to the discovery that certain heteropoly complexes, so-called paramagnetic transition-metal substituted heteropoly anions, influence significantly the magnetic relaxation rate of water, the rate with which water molecules react to strong magnetic fields present inside the human body during the MRI procedure. Owing to the fact that the change in the relaxation rate of water improves the contrast observed in the MRI picture of human organs, it became possible that these compounds could potentially be used as contrast agents administered to patients just before the MRI is done. Currently used contrast agents also change the relaxation rate of water, but less strongly than the compounds that my group discovered. After publishing these results in Inorganic Chemistry (199534, 924) my group began in-vivo studies administering the newly discovered contrast agents to mice. Unfortunately, the compounds that we tested up to date, turned out to be too toxic to warrant their practical applications and the renewal of funding from the National Cancer Institute. We suspect that the toxicity is caused by their relative instability at the pH of blood, which is above 7. Therefore, in the future we are planning to investigate another group of the same compounds, which are more stable at that pH, but are still expected to strongly affect relaxation rates of water.