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Five faculty members named American Chemical Society Fellows


   

Top row, left to right are Neal Castagnoli Jr., Kevin Edgar, and Timothy E. Long. Bottom row, left to right are James McGrath and S. Richard Turner. Top row, left to right are Neal Castagnoli Jr., Kevin Edgar, and Timothy E. Long. Bottom row, left to right are James McGrath and S. Richard Turner.


BLACKSBURG, Va., Aug. 10, 2009 – Five Virginia Tech faculty members will be among the first class of American Chemical Society (ACS) Fellows honored at the 238th ACS national meeting in Washington D.C., Aug. 16-20.

ACS is the world's largest scientific society and is dedicated to the advancement of the chemical enterprise and career development across all fields of chemistry.

The 162 individuals named in this inaugural class of fellows are being honored for excellence in chemistry and service to society. Virginia Tech faculty members so honored are Neal Castagnoli Jr., Timothy E. Long, James McGrath, and S. Richard Turner, professors in the College of Science chemistry department, and Kevin Edgar, professor of biomaterial and bioprocessing in the College of Natural Resources' wood science and forest products department.

Neal Castagnoli Jr.
Castagnoli's research is devoted to the application of principles of small molecule chemistry to problems in biology, with emphasis on the study of molecular mechanisms of drug metabolism and pharmacological action, and how these processes relate to neurotoxicity and neuroprotection of the central nervous system. Results of studies of the mechanisms of action of monoamine oxidase, cytochrome P-450, and nitric oxide synthase, are being used to identify molecules which act as neurotoxic and/or neuroprotective agents. A major goal of this research is to gain a more complete understanding of how chemical entities disrupt the normal brain functions and understand the etiology of neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson's Disease and Alzheimer's Disease.

Castagnoli came to Virginia Tech in 1988 as the Harvey W. Peters professor of chemistry and received the Jacob K. Javits Neurosciences Investigator Award for his contributions to neurotoxicology. His bachelor’s degree in chemistry, his master’s in endocrinology, and his Ph.D in chemistry, are all from the University of California, Berkeley.

Kevin Edgar
Edgar's research focuses on the synthesis, analysis, and structure-property-performance evaluation of polysaccharide derivatives. He has particular interest in the creation of novel drug-delivery systems based on polysaccharide derivatives, in order to address critical patient needs. His research also addresses the broad and vital issue of identifying novel, high-value biomaterials from biomass, and viable processes for their preparation.

At Virginia Tech, Edgar is also associate director for research initiatives in the Macromolecules and Interfaces Institute, directs the Bio-based Materials Center of the Institute for Critical Technologies and Applied Science (ICTAS), and is a member of the ICTAS Faculty Advisory Board, the Wood-Based Composites Center, and the Sustainable Engineered Materials Institute.

Edgar came to Virginia Tech in 2007 from Eastman Chemical Company, where he was a Technology Fellow focusing on cellulose ester chemistry, drug delivery, and the creation of technology portfolios and organizations to support new business initiatives. He received his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Bucknell University and his Ph.D. degree in organic chemistry from Duke University.

Timothy E. Long
Long is associate director of interdisciplinary research and education at the Fralin Life Science Institute. His research focus is the synthesis and characterization of novel macromolecules for applications ranging from biology to materials and electromechanical devices, resulting in 40 patents.

He is the principal investigator of three interdisciplinary research centers including a National Science Foundation Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship Program dealing with macromolecules and life sciences, a Material Center of Excellence involved with high impact plastics, and an Army-sponsored Multi-Disciplinary University Research Initiative to develop charged polymers for electro-active devices. Reducing the need for conventional solvents and the development of environmentally benign polymerization processes is another priority. Long's research efforts have also evolved to include the interaction of charged macromolecules with nucleic acids and cellular membranes leading to the discovery of drug delivery vehicles and anti-microbials. Long pioneered the use of in situ infrared spectroscopy for the investigation of polymerization processes including both living chain polymerization and step-growth polymerization in real-time.

He came to Virginia Tech in 1998 from Eastman Chemical Company, where he led diverse teams of scientists and engineers for the development of novel product concepts and new products for imaging and packaging. His bachelor’s degree in chemistry is from Bonaventure University and his Ph.D. is from Virginia Tech.

James McGrath
McGrath is a University Distinguished Professor and the Ethyl Chaired Professor of Chemistry at Virginia Tech and a member of the National Academy of Engineering.

His research interests are synthesis and characterization of high performance matrix polymers and structural adhesives, new composite matrix and adhesive polymers for possible use in aerospace, new high-temperature polymer dielectrics for computer development, fire-resistant polymers and composites, and new sulfonated aromatic polymers for chlorine-resistant desalination membranes and as proton exchange membranes for fuel cells. Providing industry with affordable processes to produce advanced materials is an important goal and he has 40 patents.

He was inducted into the Plastics Hall of Fame by the Society for Plastics Engineers in 1997, received the society's International Research Award in 1998, and has received numerous ACS awards for research and for education. McGrath has mentored hundreds of students and provided ACS short courses to thousands of professionals. He came to Virginia Tech in 1975 from Union Carbide. His earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from St. Bernadine of Siena College and a master’s degree in chemistry and Ph.D. in polymer science from the University of Akron.

S. Richard Turner
Turner, director of the Macromolecules and Interfaces Institute at Virginia Tech, is an organic polymer chemist specializing in synthesis and characterization of novel step-growth polymers, hyperbranched polymers, ion-containing polymers and novel polymers responsive to external stimuli.

His present research is directed at developing new kinds of polymer materials for hydrogen storage, novel rigid polymers with a charged (polyelectrolytes), which may have applications in biomedical devices. He has synthesized charged copolymers that self assemble and are stable in solution, similar to natural polymers such as DNA.

Turner came to Virginia Tech in 2005 from Eastman Chemical Company, where he was involved in a broad range of basic and applied research, including photoconducting polymers and water-soluble polymers. Projects at Eastman Chemical included making plastics for packaging food, water, and other beverages, and clear, chemically resistant plastics for medical applications. He holds over 100 U.S. patents and received the 2008 Outstanding Industrial Polymer Scientist presented by the ACS Division of Polymer Chemistry. His bachrlor’s and master’s degrees in chemistry are from Tennessee Technological University and his Ph.D. is from the University of Florida.

According to ACS, "Fellows come from the entire breadth of ACS's membership and the chemical enterprise — including high school teaching, entrepreneurship, government service, and all sectors of industry and academia. Academic chemists make up 72 percent of the new class of fellows with 15 percent from industry, 7 percent retired nonacademic, 5 percent government, and 1 percent consultants."

Virginia Tech is among only a few with as many fellows. The University of California, Berkeley has six fellows, and Columbia and Texas A&M each has five as well. The ACS announcement and list is available online.