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Amanda Morris named a young leader in chemical sciences by Dreyfus Foundation

May 23, 2016

Amanda Morris at her lab in Department of Chemistry

Amanda Morris
Amanda Morris

Amanda Morris of the Virginia Tech College of Science has been selected as a 2016 Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar, an award which honors emerging young leaders in the chemical sciences.

Morris is one of 13 honorees this year to be selected by the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation. Faculty honored by the foundation are “within the first five years of their academic careers, have each created an outstanding independent body of scholarship, and are deeply committed to education,” according to the nonprofit organization. The foundation adds, “The frontier research accomplishments of the 2016 award recipients span the broad range of contemporary research in the chemical sciences.”

Morris is an assistant professor with the Department of Chemistry. In its announcement, the foundation highlighted Morris' research work with artificial photosynthetic arrays as the reason for the honor.

Morris’ work in this field already has garnered her a five-year, $605,000 National Science Foundation CAREER Award to fabricate artificial photosynthetic assemblies that can convert solar energy into chemical fuels, such as methane, for long-term storage and use. Making up the assemblies will be 3-D polymers known as metal-organic framework thin film arrays. The long-term goal of her work: Create solar energy gear for houses that can store energy for later use  when the sun is down or on a rainy day.

The Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation is a nonprofit organization devoted to the advancement of the chemical sciences. It was established in 1946 by chemist, inventor, and businessman Camille Dreyfus in honor of his brother, Henry. Since its inception in 1970, the foundation’s Teacher-Scholar program has awarded more than $45 million to support emerging young leaders in the chemical sciences.

“The Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award is the Dreyfus Foundation’s flagship program,” said Mark Cardillo, executive director of the New York-based foundation. “The award supports exceptional young academic researchers at an early and crucial stage of their careers. They are selected based on their independent contributions to both research in the chemical sciences and education.”

Among Morris’ more recent awards are a $55,000 Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow in Chemistry, a $450,000 U.S. Department of Energy grant in 2014, and a Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award from Oak Ridge Associated Universities in 2013 for research involving oxidation of water, a critical step in artificial photosynthesis, as well as the development of cheap, efficient solar cells.

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