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Chemistry Professor Mary Elizabeth Anderson receives NSF grant

Furman Associate Professor of Chemistry Mary Elizabeth “Beth” Anderson has received a National Science Foundation (NSF) Research in Undergraduate Institutions (RUI) grant to support her work in materials science.

Mary Elizabeth Anderson joined the Furman faculty in 2018.

Her proposal, “RUI: Exploring Synthesis, Tailoring Structure, Evaluating Properties, and Enabling Patterning of Surface-Anchored Framework Assemblies,” was awarded $371,965 for the three-year project.

The grant supports nine summer student stipends over a three-year span and supports a postdoctoral scientist for two years.

“My students investigate the bottom-up assembly of metal ions and organic ligands that connect like tinker toys into scaffold structures with intertwining nanopores that are perfect for storing gas or chemical sensing—this material is called a metal-organic framework or MOF,” said Anderson.

“Students use advanced microscopy to “watch” how the MOFs grow. Additional instrumentation determines other material properties like film thickness and gas adsorption. So with this funding, I’m most looking forward to investigating methods to pattern the MOFs on a surface—this is essential to engineer the material into device structures for pertinent applications.”

Results from the proposed research contribute to the fields of surface science, engineering science, nanotechnology and material chemistry. Said Anderson, “Well-trained undergraduate students engaged in this research go on to become the scientists and engineers that will discover and implement new solutions to end the energy crisis, remediate environmental problem areas, develop greener industrial processes, heal the diseases of the 21st century and tackle problems yet to be realized.”

Anderson joined the Furman faculty in fall 2018 after her promotion and tenure at Hope College, where she served eight years. In addition to her teaching responsibilities in general and analytical chemistry at Furman, her research focus is materials science and surface chemistry with a special passion for exploring and capturing images on the nanoscale.

Since arriving at Furman, Anderson has submitted two research papers—one published and another in revision. A graduate of Samford University and Pennsylvania State University, she has given invited talks at Clemson University and presented at regional and national professional meetings.

Additionally, at the most recent National American Chemical Society meeting, six current and former undergraduate students presented research they conducted in her laboratory. Said John Wheeler, Furman chemistry professor and associate provost for integrative science, “Beth is clearly already making very valuable contributions not only to advancing her field of study, but is also committed to supporting The Furman Advantage through her mentoring of multiple undergraduate research students throughout the academic year and summer 2019.

“She has also taken on additional mentoring responsibilities by serving as Furman’s resident expert in scanning electron microscopy (SEM), including investing time in training students and faculty across multiple departments on our recently acquired SEM, supported through a Science Equipment Program grant from the Sherman Fairchild Foundation.”

Anderson joins other faculty members and students making news. Those highlights include:

  • Furman Assistant Biology Professor Adi Dubash has received a third year of competitive support ($72,000) through the National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded South Carolina IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence (SC-INBRE) Developmental Research Program (DRP).
  • Research by Dubash and his students was published as the cover feature in the June issue of the Journal of Investigative Dermatology. Co-investigators include Jacqueline Bendrick ‘18 and Luke Eldredge ‘19, both supported under Dubash’s NIH INBRE DRP award.
  • Furman Assistant Biology Professor Linnea Freeman recently received a second year of support under the NIH INBRE DRP program at a level of $72,000.
  • Furman Assistant Biology Professor Sri Chandrasekaran has been recommended (pending final NIH approval) to receive her first year of support under the INBRE DRP program effective July 1.
  • Furman graduate Caitlin Hay ’19, a student of Dubash, recently returned from Washington, D.C., where she was one of nine students nationally selected by NAIPI (National Association of IDeA Principal Investigators) to represent the 23 states and Puerto Rico receiving federal funding through the NIH IDeA (Institutional Development Award) program. Hay engaged with multiple congressional offices to discuss the personal impacts of participating in undergraduate research.

Wheeler underscores the significance of the awards. “In total, six Furman biology faculty members—Jason Rawlings, Allison Roark, Dubash, Freeman, Chandrasekaran and former Furman Biology Professor Renee Chosed—have now successfully competed for more than $930,000 in biomedical research funding supporting their work with Furman undergraduates through the NIH INBRE DRP mechanism since 2015,” he said.

For more information contact John Wheeler at 864-294-3371 and Or contact Furman’s News and Media Relations office at 864-294-3107.


Last updated June 7, 2019
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Clinton Colmenares
News & Media Relations Director