Headshot of Mary Elizabeth Anderson, new professor

Mary Elizabeth Anderson

Professor, Chemistry

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Born and raised in Alabama, Mary Elizabeth (Beth) Anderson obtained her B.S. in Chemistry at Samford University in Birmingham, AL. She earned her Ph.D. in Chemistry at Pennsylvania State University and was directed by Prof. Paul S. Weiss (Chemistry) and Prof. Mark W. Horn (Engineering Science). Her doctoral research was interdisciplinary with projects focused in the areas of surface, material, and engineering sciences; combining chemical self-assembly with conventional lithography. Between her graduate and postdoctoral research, she was a Postdoctoral Faculty Fellow at Boston University co-teaching general chemistry, while conducting research using surface plasmon resonance spectroscopy with Prof. Rosina M. Georgiadis. She returned to Penn State as a Postdoctoral Research Associate with Prof. Raymond E. Schaak in Chemistry working to integrate inorganic solid-state synthesis techniques with nanofabrication methods. In Fall 2018, she joined the Chemistry Department at Furman University as an Associate Professor after being tenured and promoted at Hope College in Michigan (2010-2018). Her research is in the area of material science and surface chemistry with teaching responsibilities in general and analytical chemistry. Exploring and capturing images of the nanoscale world is one of her passions and an integral component of her research program.


  • Ph.D., Pennsylvania State University
  • B.S., Samford University


Investigating the Bottom-up Assembly of Nanomaterials

The incorporation of nanomaterials into a wide range of applications is motivated by the diverse properties (optical, electrical, magnetic, catalytic, etc.) of these nanoscale materials and their tunability by particle size, shape and composition. The goal of research in the Anderson lab is to build and characterize these materials from the bottom-up, assembling molecules and atoms into complex nanomaterials. Current research investigates the surface chemistry for the fabrication of thin film metal-organic frameworks, as well as materials chemistry for diverse structural and compositional nanomaterials, specifically thermoelectric materials.

Students engaged in this research learn methodologies for the fabrication of nanoparticles and thin films, utilizing solution-phase solid-state synthesis and metal-organic coordination chemistry. For characterization of material composition and particle assembly, students will routinely use powder x-ray diffraction spectroscopy, scanning probe microscopy and scanning electron microscopy with energy dispersive spectroscopy. Students will gain experience in the interdisciplinary field of nanoscience — from the chemistry involved in material fabrication, to the physics involved in the forces directing assembly, to the engineering involved in designing hierarchical architectures.

This type of research is necessary to integrate nanomaterials into complex architectures that interface with the outside world for applications in the fields of energy, computing and medicine.

Research Funding:

  • Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award: Bottom-Up Assembly of Nanomaterials: Investigating Fundamentals of Formation to Tailor Material Structure and Properties, 2019-2024.
  • NSF-RUI: Exploring Synthesis, Tailoring Structure, Evaluating Material Properties, and Enabling Patterning of Surface-Anchored Framework Assemblies, 2019-2022.
  • NSF-RUI: Enabling Rational Design of Smart Interfaces Incorporating Metal-Organic Coordinated Assemblies, 2015 – 2019.
  • ACS-PRF: Assembly and Characterization of Metal-Organic Coordinated Thin Films with Designed Catalytic Sites, 2014 – 2016.
  • NSF-MRI: Acquisition of an Atomic Force Microscope at Hope College, 2011 – 2014.