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National Fresenius Award

February 13, 2006 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 84, Issue 7

Credit: Photo By Justin Debord
Credit: Photo By Justin Debord

Sponsored by Phi Lambda Upsilon, the National Honorary Chemical Society

One of the hallmarks of truly innovative scientists is their ability to move into new fields that are separate from their dissertation and postdoctoral work. L. Andrew Lyon, 35, associate professor in the school of chemistry and biochemistry at Georgia Institute of Technology, is just such a chemist.

Born in Neptune, N.J., Lyon received a bachelor's degree in chemistry from Rutgers University in 1992. He was formally trained as a physical chemist with Joseph Hupp at Northwestern University, from which he received M.S. (1993) and Ph.D. (1996) degrees. His thesis work concentrated on the optical and electrical properties of inorganic nanoparticle interfaces. According to a colleague, this early work was "fundamental, insightful, and very relevant to the design of dye-sensitized solar cells."

Lyon continued his training in the general area of electrochemical and photophysical processes during a postdoctoral appointment with Michael Natan at Pennsylvania State University. This work concentrated on template-directed electrodeposition of metal nanowires and nanoparticle-amplified bioassays based on surface plasmon resonances.

At Georgia Institute of Technology, which he joined as an assistant professor in 1999, Lyon switched gears completely and moved into soft colloidal systems, specifically the design and synthesis of hydrogel nanoparticles. Initially, his group focused on the synthesis of a new class of core/shell hydrogel particles; it has since developed synthetic methods for the preparation of chemically and topologically complex colloidal hydrogels.

The Lyon group's development of multifunctional, environmentally sensitive, core/shell microgels has paved the way for the fabrication of very complex soft nanomaterials such as photoswitchable microlens arrays and ligand-functionalized core/shell microgels with permselective shells.

Lyon's group was also one of the first to create well-defined colloidal crystals from hydrogel particles and has continued to delve into the physics of soft colloidal self-assembly. In these studies, the group demonstrated the first examples of colloidal crystallization via soft, attractive interaction potentials. More recently, the Lyon group has exploited synthetic control over these particles to create materials that may be useful for controlled release of drugs and targeted cancer therapies.

According to Thomas M. Orlando, professor and chair in the school of chemistry and biochemistry at Georgia Tech: "The broad sweep of Andrew's work makes assigning him to a single subdiscipline of chemistry an impossible task. He has an enormous future in terms of materials science but one that is based on hard structural and physical principles, including an intimate knowledge of molecular structure. He is exactly the kind of interdisciplinary chemist that the future of science requires."

Lyon was promoted in 2003 to associate professor, a full two years earlier than the typical tenure schedule, and he received tenure in 2004. Among his honors are a Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award (2003); Blanchard Fellowship (2003); Sloan Research Fellowship (2002); a Beckman Foundation Young Investigator Award (2000); a National Science Foundation CAREER Award (1999); and a Research Corporation Research Innovation Award (1999).

Phi Lambda Upsilon, an honorary chemistry society, annually presents the Fresenius Award to a faculty member under age 35 at the time of nomination. Established in 1965, the honor recognizes high scholarship and original investigations in pure and applied chemistry. With the receipt of this award, Lyon will be joining an elite group of scientists: Past recipients include Martin Karplus, Ronald Breslow, Mostafa El Sayed, John Baldeschwieler, Roald Hoffman, Harry Gray, Charles Cantor, Nicholas Turro, and Richard Zare.

The Fresenius Award Address will be presented before the Division of Analytical Chemistry.-LINDA RABER


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