Amanda Morris named chair of the Department of Chemistry | VTX


The Virginia Tech College of Science has appointed Professor Amanda Morris to head its chemistry department. Morris began his new role on August 10.

She succeeds Alan Esker, who served as department director since 2018.

“The Department of Chemistry is an exciting place to work,” Morris said. “We have recruited a strong cohort of young and talented teachers over the past 10 years. We have more research spending today than in the last decade — and it keeps growing. Our core of instructors is incredibly strong with award-winning lecturers dedicated to innovative pedagogy to support our ever-diversifying student body. Plus, we have a family of dedicated employees who help keep things running smoothly.

“I am excited to support the entire team and elevate the chemistry program over the next four years through strategic investment in priority areas identified by the department.”

Morris received his bachelor’s degree from Penn State and his master’s and doctoral degrees in chemistry from Johns Hopkins University in 2007 and 2009, respectively. She then served as a postdoctoral research associate at Princeton University before arriving at Virginia Tech in 2011. Her early academic career was dedicated to solving critical environmental problems with basic science, including the remediation of the water, solar energy collection and storage and carbon dioxide conversion.

Since arriving at Blacksburg, Morris has published more than 60 peer-reviewed articles and several agencies and foundations have awarded him grants, recognition of the importance of his research program. She has received numerous accolades and awards for her work, including serving as a member of the Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation in 2019. She also received the Young Investigator Award from the Inter-American Photochemical Society in 2017, an Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship in 2016, and a CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation in 2016.

“I would like to thank Dr. Esker for his excellent leadership of the Department of Chemistry over the past four years,” said Kevin Pitts, Dean of the College of Science.

“I am confident that Dr. Morris will lead the department’s exciting and transformative research program to new heights,” Pitts said, “and at the same time she is committed to helping students from diverse backgrounds become part of the fabric of science education at Virginia Tech.

Morris’s research efforts are inspired by nature’s photosynthetic system and have led to advances in catalysis and light-harvesting mimics, particularly in the area of ​​organometallic structures. His research on energy transfer phenomena in organometallic structures led to transformative scientific results that broke scientific precedent and has important implications for energy transfer systems.

In addition to his academic and research success, Morris embodies Virginia Tech’s motto of Ut Prosim (That I May Serve) with its demonstrated service record, including the recruitment and retention of minority and underrepresented chemists. In recognition of this work, she received the Presidential Principles of Community Award, the Alan F. Clifford Service Award, and the College of Science Diversity Award.

“Everyone benefits from a diverse workforce that can offer different perspectives based on their varied life experiences. Beyond that, there is a lot of work to be done to ensure these diverse populations feel welcome and included. Being a diverse faculty member myself, I greatly appreciate the benefits of diversity and the work required to ensure true inclusion,” said Morris, faculty member Patricia Caldwell of the College of Science.

“The only way to implement real change is for someone to do the hard work, which I will always do. I’ve seen incredible success with diversity, equity, inclusion and respect From seeing a student pass a course when they didn’t believe it was possible to seeing changes in university policy that led to the creation of cultural and community centers on campus,” she said. .

“These accomplishments have only solidified my passion for scholarly service.”

She is currently an expert for the American Chemical Society in the field of sustainable energy and through this effort has worked to communicate the science to a wider national audience with interviews on national public radio, newspaper editorials and press conferences. In addition, she is associate editor of Chemical Physics Reviews and serves on the editorial advisory boards of ACS Applied Energy Materials and EnergyChem.

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