Chemistry Professor Miles Johnson Receives $500,000 NSF CAREER Award to Further Chemical Compound Research

February 11, 2021

Note: The photo above was taken prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

UNIVERSITY OF RICHMOND — The National Science Foundation has awarded Miles Johnson, assistant professor of chemistry at the University of Richmond, more than $500,000 in grant support for his research on metal catalysts and developing new chemical compounds.

Miles Johnson HeadshotJohnson has received an NSF Early Career Development Program Award — known as CAREER awards — which support early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization.

“CAREER grants are rarely awarded to faculty in undergraduate science departments,” said Carol Parish, Floyd D. and Elisabeth S. Gottwald Professor of Chemistry and Associate Provost for Academic Integration. “They are very prestigious. Miles is a consummate Teacher-Scholar who embodies precisely what the NSF looks for when selecting a recipient.”

Johnson’s research focuses on metal catalysts, particularly nickel. Such catalysts are routinely used in the development of new chemical compounds, which has implications in the pharmaceutical industry.

“Cross-coupling reactions have played a pivotal role in the synthesis of new pharmaceuticals for decades and represent some of the most powerful tools at the disposal of medicinal chemists,” Johnson said.

More broadly, Johnson is excited about the general science applications and educational opportunities supported by this grant, particularly for undergraduate research students.

“I believe that everyone deserves a scientific education that promotes critical thinking and provides a foundation for informed decision-making surrounding science, whether it be in the kitchen or the voting booth,” said Johnson. “The threats of a global pandemic and world-wide climate change highlight more than ever the need to train the next generation of scientists and promote scientific literacy among everyone.”

The grant will support a research and education plan that fosters an inclusive and engaging scientific experience. Johnson will provide mentoring opportunities and undergraduate research.

Johnson graduated from the University of Richmond with a Bachelor of Science in chemistry and completed his Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley. He became a UR faculty member in 2016. He has also received funding to support his research from the American Chemical Society and Jeffress Memorial Trust.