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Provost George Shields awarded $333,358 NSF-RUI grant

George Shields is founder and director of the Molecular Education and Research Consortium in Undergraduate Computational Chemistry (MERCURY).

George Shields, vice president of academic affairs and provost and professor of chemistry at Furman University, has been awarded a $333,358 National Science Foundation (NSF) Research in Undergraduate Institutions (RUI) grant to support his research efforts in computational chemistry.

The three-year grant is entitled “RUI: Thermodynamics of Nucleation: Atmospheric Aerosols from Acids, Bases, and Peptides.”

Chemistry professor Mary Elizabeth Anderson received a $371,965 NSF-RUI grant earlier this summer to support her work in materials science.

“This award reflects the extraordinary and continued success of Dr. Shields’ research efforts in the field of computational chemistry, complementing his national accomplishments developing the MERCURY Consortium,” said John Wheeler, Furman chemistry professor and associate provost for integrative science. “His award is particularly exciting for the university since it comes on the heels of competitive NSF-RUI grants awarded to Furman professors Erin Wamsley (psychology) and Mary Elizabeth Anderson (chemistry) over the past few months.”

Shields came to Furman in 2016 from Bucknell University, where he served as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and was a professor in the chemistry department. He has also taught at Armstrong Atlantic State University, Hamilton College and Lake Forest College.

Shields has a national reputation in the field of undergraduate research, having collaborated with more than 110 undergraduate students in the fields of computational chemistry, structural biochemistry and science education. He is founder and director of the Molecular Education and Research Consortium in Undergraduate Computational Chemistry (MERCURY), a collaboration of 27 undergraduate research teams at 25 different institutions.

Psychology professor Erin Wamsley was awarded a $527,551 NSF grant  in March to support her research on how the brain processes memory.

He received the 2015 American Chemical Society Award for Research at an Undergraduate Institution, and he currently serves on the executive board of the Council on Undergraduate Research. In 2018, he was named a Cottrell Scholar TREE (Transformational Research and Excellence in Education) Award recipient, the first professor from a primarily undergraduate institution to receive the honor.

Shields received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemistry and a doctorate in physical chemistry from the Georgia Institute of Technology. His postdoctoral research on protein-DNA interactions at Yale University and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute was conducted in the laboratory of Professor Thomas Steitz, the 2009 Chemistry Nobel Laureate.

For more information, contact Furman’s News and Media Relations office at 864-294-3107.

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