Gray will receive a scholarship to Cambridge University in England following his graduation in May and will then begin graduate studies in organic chemistry.
"One of the really unique things about Brian is that he's already like a junior scientist," said Assoc. Prof. Rein A. Uritam (Physics), explaining that Gray has written research papers and given talks on his work - not typical tasks for an undergraduate.
Established by the British government in 1953, Marshall Scholarships are among the most competitive awards in academia and are similar to Rhodes Scholarships, said Uritam, who serves as Marshall Scholarship faculty coordinator on the University Fellowship Committee. Forty Marshall Scholarships are given each year in the US.
Broderick Bagert, a 1998 BC graduate, was awarded a Marshall Scholarship in 1999 to study at Oxford University, and last year Genevieve Frances Thiers, '00, was chosen as an alternate for the award.
"This is quite an intellectual achievement for Brian - who is a remarkable person in every way - and those who taught him here at BC," said Prof. Donald Hafner (Political Science), director of the University Fellowship Committee.
A native of Garden City, NY, Gray is interested in devising new methods of developing carbon catalysts, chemical bonds that are the basis for many drugs. Catalysts now in use by the pharmaceutical industry are expensive to produce, difficult to store and can be environmentally hazardous, he says.
"It would be excellent if we could find ways of producing these catalysts that would be cheaper and make them easier to handle," said Gray. This type of research is taking place in government-funded academic laboratories because such work would not be economically feasible for private companies, he added.
"This is something I very much believe in," said Gray, who learned last week that he has been accepted into a Harvard University doctoral program, which he will begin when he returns from Cambridge.
"His strength is that he's been a dedicated scholar and that he has the ability to remain very focused," said Vanderslice Millennium Professor of Chemistry Amir Hoveyda, who has often worked with Gray.
An alto saxophonist, Gray has served as a tutor for local high school students and GED candidates through the Academic Development Center and as a 4Boston volunteer at the Jackson-Mann Community School in Allston.
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