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On a roll: Karen Buchmueller and the National Science Foundation

Last updated September 5, 2018

By Tina Underwood

If you’re looking for tips on how to write winning grant proposals, just ask Karen Buchmueller. In the space of a year, the Furman University associate professor of chemistry has served as principal or co-principal investigator for three successful proposals to the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The latest NSF award of $253,411 will be housed at Georgia Institute of Technology and will support the national endeavors of the Chemistry Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Leadership Group (LG).

This award is preceded by two other NSF grants: 1) a $340,000 grant to Furman to support faculty and students in the REU program, and 2) a $156,858 grant to Furman for the purchase of a bioimaging system. All told, Buchmueller’s name is associated with about $750,000 from NSF in the last 12 months.

Buchmueller, who is one of three investigators on the most recent grant, has been part of the LG for five years, serving as chair in 2016. Advocating for the greater Chemistry NSF REU community, the LG is comprised of 9 faculty members, most of those hailing from comprehensive, doctoral-granting research institutions.

The group uses platforms like websites, symposia and  workshops, which are focused on sharing best practices for REU principle investigators and Site Directors, so that undergraduates—including those at Furman—can have meaningful and productive research experiences.

Part of the LG’s work is also aimed at broadening participation and inclusivity in chemistry as a discipline. To that end, the group is heavily involved in efforts to attract to the field underrepresented minorities (Black, Hispanic/Latino, Native American, Pacific Islanders), veterans, community college students, first-generation college students and persons with disabilities.

Said Furman Associate Provost for Integrative Science John Wheeler, “This achievement once again represents Furman’s long-standing national recognition and contributions as a leader in undergraduate research, including service to those schools in receipt of NSF undergraduate research funding in chemistry spanning two decades.”

About her latest success, Buchmueller won’t take all the credit. “Furman has had a strong presence in the Leadership Group for many years, as Drs. Moses Lee and Tim Hanks both preceded me as members of the LG. I am very proud of the work that I have done as part of this group and what this group has done for the Chemistry REU community. We ultimately are focused on the undergraduate student,” she said.

For more information, contact Karen Buchmueller, Furman University Department of Chemistry,  at 864-294-2683, and

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