donna chen

UofSC professor named AAAS fellow

University of South Carolina chemistry professor Donna Chen has been named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Election as an AAAS fellow is one of the most prestigious honors awarded in academia.

“It took me by surprise,” Chen says. “It’s a wonderful honor, and I’m glad to be joining the group of AAAS fellows.”

Chen was selected for her research in surface chemistry, the study of what occurs when a substance changes between a liquid or gas state.

“This is a prestigious and richly deserved honor for Donna Chen.”

Lacy Ford, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences

“I’m interested in understanding the reactions of molecules on surfaces at the atomic and molecular scale,” Chen says. “That means distinguishing exactly which bonds are broken and which sites molecules bind on that initiate this chemical activity.”

It was Chen’s use of heterogeneous catalysts that caught the attention of the AAAS. These catalysts, such as platinum, are used to speed up chemical reactions. That’s important because these catalysts could impact multiple industries.

“Heterogeneous catalysts are found everywhere. They’re in the catalytic converter in your car, the petroleum refining industry and fuel cells for electric cars,” Chen says.

Before joining the UofSC faculty in 1999, Chen earned her bachelor’s and doctorate in chemistry from the Roster Institute of Technology and Harvard University, respectively. Being named an AAAS fellow is the latest accolade for Chen who won the 2010 Michael J. Mungo Undergraduate Teaching Award and 2008 Governor’s Young Researcher Award for Excellence in Science.

Chen joins 43 other faculty members at the university who are AAAS fellows; 37 are scholars in the College of Arts and Sciences.

“This is a prestigious and richly deserved honor for Donna Chen,” says Lacy Ford, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “In becoming a member of the AAAS, she joins a long line of past and present arts and sciences faculty in earning such distinction.”

This year, 416 international scholars were named AAAS fellows and will be honored at the association’s annual meeting on Feb. 14 in Washington D.C.

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