UR Student Harry Dang Receives Beckman Scholarship to Further Research on Sensors Used to Screen for Explosives and Drugs

March 3, 2021

Harry Dang headshotUNIVERSITY OF RICHMOND — Sophomore Harry Dang, of Saigon, Vietnam, has been awarded a prestigious Beckman Foundation Scholarship to pursue research focused on the development of cost-effective and portable sensors used by law enforcement, health professionals, and consumers to screen for explosives, drugs, and disease biochemical indicators.

Dang is majoring in biochemistry and molecular biology and minoring in mathematics and physics. Under the mentorship of chemistry professor Mike Leopold, Dang’s undergraduate research focuses on studying halogen bonding, an intermolecular interaction that has been applied in materials science and medicinal chemistry.

“The research Harry is engaged with can serve as the fundamental interaction within sensors designed to detect non-aromatic explosives,” said Leopold. “As terrorists increasingly switch from aromatic explosives to harder-to-detect non-aromatic materials for improvised explosive devices, it is imperative to develop field portable sensors for these compounds to assist law enforcement, counter-terrorism efforts, and military operations in combat zones.”

“This award solidifies my commitment and dedication to research and will be instrumental in effecting my long-term career plans,” said Dang. “The Beckman Foundation Scholarship will allow our group to expand the scope of our research.”

Dang’s scholarship is part of a larger award to the University of Richmond from the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation, which supports student research in the sciences.

Dang said the award also will allow him to attend and present at conferences where he expects to find inspiration for new research directions in his lab.


Media Contact: Sunni Brown, director of media and public relations, sbrown5@richmond.edu