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Virginia Tech News / Articles / 2018 / May 

Chemistry’s John Matson honored as outstanding young faculty by Dreyfus Foundation

May 22, 2018

Head shots/portraits for faculty and staff in the College of Science at Virginia Tech.

John Matson
John Matson

John Matson of the Virginia Tech College of Science’s Department of Chemistry has been selected as a 2018 Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar, an award that honors emerging young faculty in the chemical sciences.

Matson is one of 13 honorees selected by the nonprofit Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation. Faculty selected as scholars 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 organization. Each Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar receives an unrestricted research grant of $75,000. Honorees for 2018 “span the broad range of contemporary research in the chemical sciences.”

Matson was selected for his research group’s efforts into functional bioactive materials, specifically their studies into understanding and exploiting the roles of hydrogen sulfide in biological systems through development of new small molecules, polymers, and hydrogels. More broadly, his research focuses on developing new materials to address problems in biology and medicine, energy, and the environment, with a focus on synthetic small molecule and polymer chemistry.

Previous Virginia Tech Department of Chemistry recipients include Amanda Morris in 2016 and Edward Valeev in 2010.

Among Matson’s honor and awards are the Jimmy W. Viers Teaching Award, given by the Department of Chemistry in 2016; a $530,000 National Science Foundation Early Career Development Award to study hydrogen sulfide gas as a biological signaling molecule in 2015; and a 3M Non-tenured Faculty Award, also in 2015. He also won a $198,000 collaborative grant from the BiNational Science Foundation to research peptide-based hydrogels as synthetic materials for tissue engineering and a $1.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop therapeutic hydrogen sulfide gas-releasing polymers.

Matson earned bachelor degrees in chemistry and German from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, in 2004, and a doctoral degree in chemistry from the California Institute of Technology in 2009. Before joining Virginia Tech in 2012, he served as a postdoctoral associate at Northwestern University for three years.

The Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation is 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. The foundation’s mission is “to advance the science of chemistry, chemical engineering, and related sciences as a means of improving human relations and circumstances around the world.”

Since its inception in 1970, the Teacher-Scholar program has awarded more than $49 million to support emerging young leaders in the chemical sciences.   

Related stories:

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