UR Chemistry Professor Michael Leopold Receives Outstanding Faculty Award From State Council of Higher Education

January 26, 2022

Michael Leopold headshotUNIVERSITY OF RICHMOND — Michael Leopold, University of Richmond Floyd D. and Elisabeth S. Gottwald Professor of Chemistry, has been named an Outstanding Faculty Award recipient by the State Council of Higher Education.

The Outstanding Faculty Awards are the highest honor for faculty at Virginia's public and private colleges and universities, and recognize superior accomplishments in teaching, research, and public service. Nominees are selected by their institutions, reviewed by a panel of peers, and chosen by a committee of leaders from the public and private sectors. Leopold was one of 12 recipients out of 85 nominees.

Leopold’s area of expertise is bioanalytical nanomaterials. His most recent research, which is supported by National Science Foundation, focuses on the development of a nanoparticle-based sensor to be used for detecting explosives and other forensic-related molecules, including drugs or diseases. He teaches general chemistry, forensics, and analytical chemistry. Leopold frequently mentors undergraduate research students, including UR’s most recent Beckman Scholar Harry Dang. He and his students have performed chemistry “magic shows” at elementary schools and hosted on-campus field trips for middle and high school classes.

“Dr. Leopold is an extremely dedicated research mentor who further kindles my passion for research,” said Dang. “Under his guidance, I have been able to develop independence in the lab, enhance my scientific reasoning skills, and become well-versed in performing analytical chemistry techniques.”

“Winning this award is meaningful to me and the students I have worked with, and that’s especially true during a time when teachers everywhere have had to adapt to the challenges of teaching during a pandemic,” said Leopold. “This award recognizes and reinforces the notion that effective teaching persists through adversity and that connections with students in the classroom and research lab remain significant experiences in their educational journeys.” 

Leopold research groupThis award is the latest recognition of Leopold’s contributions to his field and the University of Richmond. Leopold has taught at UR since 2002. He has previously received funding from the NSF, the Camille & Henry Dreyfus Foundation, the American Chemical Society, the Commonwealth Health Research Board, and the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges to further support this research. Originally from Yorktown, Virginia, he received his bachelor’s degree from James Madison University and Ph.D. from North Carolina State University.

“Professor Leopold has a strong commitment to excellence in teaching and an exemplary record of mentoring and publication with students,” said Dan Palazzolo, interim dean of the School of Arts & Sciences. “The SCHEV Outstanding Faculty Award is a worthy recognition of his consistent and high level of engagement with undergraduates in scientific research and discovery in chemistry.”

Leopold is the latest UR’s faculty member to receive a SCHEV Outstanding Faculty Award. Most recently, Todd Lookingbill, chair of the Department of Geography and the Environment and associate professor of geography, the environment, and biology, was honored in 2020, and Carol Parish, Floyd D. and Elisabeth S. Gottwald Professor of Chemistry and associate provost for academic integration, was honored in 2018.