During his 31-year career in the chemistry department at the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga (UTC), Gregory J. Grant “has developed a first-rate, internationally recognized research program that is centered around undergraduate students,” according to John A. Gladysz, a distinguished professor and Dow Chair in Chemical Invention at Texas A&M University.
“Greg has a perfect combination of talent, drive, personality, and people skills—all of which he combines to inspire students and further their professional development,” says Gladysz, who worked with Grant during sabbaticals in 1992 and 2001. “He persuasively articulates his personal enthusiasm for and commitment to undergraduate research in numerous forums,” including ACS meetings.
With his undergraduate researchers, Grant, 58, has focused on the coordination chemistry of heavy-metal and transition-metal complexes containing thioether and related macrocyclic or thiacrown ligands.
To support his research, Grant has procured more than $2 million in funding from organizations including the ACS Petroleum Research Fund, the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Camille & Henry Dreyfus Foundation, Research Corporation for Science Advancement, and the Tennessee Water Resources Center.
Grant has published more than 60 peer-reviewed publications while maintaining heavy teaching and administrative loads. “Perhaps even more impressive is the fact that there are 59 undergraduate coauthors on these high-quality publications,” says John T. Gupton, the Floyd D. & Elisabeth S. Gottwald Chair in Chemistry at the University of Richmond, in Virginia, and the 2008 recipient of the ACS Award for Research at an Undergraduate Institution.
In addition, Grant has motivated his students to make more than 100 presentations at ACS meetings and international chemistry conferences. “This is clearly an indication of both his generosity as a mentor and his genuine commitment to the professional development of his students, many of whom have pursued graduate studies or attended professional schools,” says Daniel Rabinovich, a professor of chemistry at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte.
During his time at UTC, Grant has also found time to recruit, support, and advise three postdoctoral research associates, all of whom are now tenure-track professors at undergraduate institutions and are engaged in undergraduate education and research, Rabinovich adds. Grant is now working with a fourth postdoc.
His mentoring abilities derive from his rich academic experience. Grant received a B.S. in chemistry in 1974 and a Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry in 1980, both from Georgia Institute of Technology. He then joined UTC’s chemistry department, becoming its Irvine W. Grote Professor of Chemistry in 1991. His numerous accolades include the University of Tennessee National Alumni Teaching Award, the Outstanding Research Award from UTC’s College of Arts & Sciences, and the Distinguished Service Award from the ACS Chattanooga Section.
Reflecting on his selection for this year’s award from ACS, he says: “I could never have imagined receiving an honor like this when I began as a new faculty member.” The award “is recognition not only of my accomplishments but also those of my undergraduate research students, my postdoctoral associates, our research collaborators, and so many other people who have helped me along the way,” he adds. “I have been very fortunate during my career. It has been a good, long, and fun ride.”
Grant will present the award address before the Division of Inorganic Chemistry.