Junior Chemistry Faculty Win Major National Awards

By Mark Sullivan
Staff Writer

Three junior faculty members in the Chemistry Department have been selected for prestigious awards that will help support their cutting-edge research.

Asst. Prof. John Fourkas received a $200,000 Beckman Young Investigator Award and a $50,000 Cotrell Scholarship, while Asst. Prof. Marc Snapper won a National Science Foundation Faculty Career Development Award worth $360,000 over four years. Asst. Prof. Scott Miller also won a Petroleum Research Fund grant worth $20,000 from American Chemical Society.

The awards, which recognize excellence in teaching and promote research by scientists early in their careers, are further indications of the University's growing reputation as a research institution in the natural sciences, faculty and administrators said.

"These are some of the most highly prized awards in the field," said Chemistry Chairman Prof. Paul Davidovits. "Faculty like John, Marc and Scott are an important part of the future, not only for our department but for the discipline itself."

"The awards demonstrate that we are getting the right junior faculty in the natural sciences," said Associate Vice President for Research and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Dean Michael Smyer. "This integration of research with a commitment to undergraduate education is a hallmark of BC's success in attracting bright, effective faculty."

Fourkas is one of 16 scientists nationwide this year to receive the Beckman award, and among 22 selected for a Cotrell Scholarship. The Cotrell grant will aid his research into the physical properties of liquids, which entails using lasers to study microscopic facets of chemical reactions. The Beckman award will help support his project in two-photon microscopy, utilizing intense light energy to study the movement of single cellular molecules.

Snapper, one of 18 chemists nationwide out of 300 applicants to receive the NSF grant, will continue work on the more efficient synthesis of molecules. The techniques he and his colleagues are introducing, he said, will allow scientists to produce compounds more easily.

Miller's grant will be used toward continuing his work with reactive molecules, a project he said has pharmaceutical applications.

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