Miller Is Top A&S Junior Faculty Member

By Sean Smith
Staff Writer

Asst. Prof. Scott Miller (Chemistry), whose research in reactive molecules has potential pharmaceutical applications, has been selected as the College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Junior Faculty award winner for the 1997-98 academic year.

The annual award recognizes a non-tenured faculty member's overall achievement and promise in teaching, service and research activities. Winners, who are selected by a panel of A&S administrators and faculty, receive a $4,000 stipend to support an independent research project.

"Scott has earned wonderful recognition and outside support for his work while at Boston College," said A&S Dean J. Robert Barth, SJ. "In doing so, he has demonstrated the qualities the University envisions for its faculty, whatever their discipline.

"We are heartened by the consistently strong pool of award candidates we see each year," Fr. Barth added. "This trend bears out our plan to bring outstanding scholars to Boston College. Furthermore, it reflects the quality of our departments, which nurture and support these promising junior faculty members."

Asst. Prof. Scott Miller (Chemistry) with graduate student Thomas Horstmann. (Photo by Gary Gilbert)

"This is very exciting to be recognized by the administration and faculty, especially having arrived at BC what seems like such a short time ago," said Miller, who began teaching at BC in 1996. "There are a lot of good people here and I've had many colleagues who have helped show me the ropes and lent me their expertise."

Miller said he plans to use the award stipend to support undergraduates working in his laboratory, in the hopes of stimulating their interest in science as a potential career path.

"We have little contact with scientists in school, so we have little appreciation for what they do," Miller said. "That was certainly my thought going into college. But my experience in organic chemistry really fascinated me, and helped steer me toward science as a field of study, and ultimately as a profession. Now, I'm trying to introduce that idea to the students I teach."

Miller says his work on developing "no-frills" enzymes offers an example of how students considering a career in medicine might find different ways of pursuing their interests. These enzymes, which would contain minimal components required to cause a reaction, he explained, could be utilized in preparing pharmaceutical compounds more efficiently and cost-effectively.

"It's important for students to realize that there are a number of opportunities to have an impact on medicine," Miller said. "The compounds used in drugs to treat AIDS, for instance, are very expensive. But if we find new methods through synthetic chemistry to make less complex enzymes, that could make a critical difference in the whole process."

Since arriving at Boston College, Miller has been awarded prestigious grants and fellowships from the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation and American Chemical Society. He also received a Research Incentive Grant last year from the University.

Miller earned bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in chemistry from Harvard University, and was a postdoctoral fellow at the California Institute of Technology from 1994 to 1996. He has co-authored articles in publications such as the Journal of the American Chemical Society and Journal of Organic Chemistry .

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