Laura L. Wright

Laura Wright

Professor, Chemistry

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Dr. Laura Wright graduated in 1977 with the first American Chemical Society-certified bachelor of science degree in chemistry granted by California State University, Dominguez Hills. She was awarded the initial Alumni Association Outstanding Achievement Award at commencement. She then pursued graduate studies at the University of California, Riverside where she earned both an M.S. and Ph.D. in the field of structural inorganic chemistry. Dr. Wright’s postdoctoral research at the University of Colorado in Boulder investigated hydrodesulfurization catalysis for purification of hydrocarbon fuels.

She joined the faculty at Furman University in 1983. At Furman she has enjoyed teaching introductory chemistry courses, inorganic courses, and the Techniques of Chemistry course. Dr. Wright has maintained an active research group, mentoring more than 70 students in her lab. She had the opportunity to gain expertise working with atomic force microscopy while on sabbatical at the University of Arizona characterizing organometallic thin film formation. Upon her return to Furman, she set up Furman’s scanning probe microscopy lab. Her research has overlapped many times with industrial partners while investigating a wide variety of interesting projects.

Dr. Wright has received both the Alester G. Furman and Janie Earle Furman Meritorious Teaching Award (2009) and Advising Award (2014), joining an elite group who have received both prestigious awards. In 2014, she became chair of the chemistry department.

Dr. Wright has been very active in the local section of the American Chemical Society (ACS). She has served on the steering committee for both the Southeast Regional Meetings of ACS in Greenville, one of which won a Chem Luminary Award for Best Regional Meeting from the National ACS, and she has served as the Chair of the Western Carolinas Local Section. She has also served as a Chemistry Councilor with the Council on Undergraduate Research.

Dr. Wright is married to Tom Taylor. They live in Greenville with their cats who love to bring them gifts of frogs and snakes from the lake in the back yard.​​​

Education

  • Ph.D., University of California, Riverside
  • M.S., University of California, Riverside
  • B.S., California State University, Dominguez Hills

Research
Research in Dr. Wright’s group is currently focused on investigating methods to immobilize florescent materials in self assembled monolayers on surfaces. Nature guides chemists in the use of simple intermolecular forces to perform self-assembly. The introduction of a polar head group and a nonpolar tail will allow a molecule to naturally align itself so that the polar end will be attracted to a polar surface while the nonpolar tails align with other tails to form an organized monolayer under controlled conditions. Dr. Wright’s group is modifying the monolayer components such that they will be able to intercalate other molecules that can be photo-polymerized into the monolayer. The photopolymerization process creates the possibility of tailoring the resulting surface to serve as a sensor for specific purposes. To determine whether the surfaces have incorporated the desired new sensing components Wright’s research students use a combination of atomic force microscopy, contact angle measurements, fluorescence microscopy and emission spectroscopy to characterize the new materials formed.