Furman University’s Tim Hanks, chair and professor of the Department of Chemistry, has been named a fellow of the American Chemical Society (ACS). Hanks and 2020 ACS Fellow George Shields, professor of chemistry, will be honored at a ceremony in Atlanta during the ACS fall meeting Aug. 22-26.
Furman alumnus Michael Duncan ’76, Franklin Professor and Regents’ Professor in the chemistry department at the University of Georgia, was also named a 2021 ACS Fellow. He received a doctorate in physical chemistry in 1982 from Rice University where he worked with research advisor Richard E. Smalley, a recipient of the 1996 Nobel Prize for Chemistry.
Hanks’ diverse research ranges from insights on bonding to development of sensors for detection of biological agents on food. His latest work has demonstrated that electronically conducting polymers can be modified on their surface to create films and nanoparticles that dramatically alter superficial properties. The science has shown efficacy in curbing biofouling, a condition in which surfaces become contaminated with proteins and organisms.
Hanks’ surface modifications resist the adhesion of contaminants, making way for applications in medical implants and marine environments. And combined with the known ability of conducting polymers to reduce corrosion, the uses extend to the industrial and transportation spheres.
Hanks’ 130 undergraduate research students have authored over 200 oral and poster presentations at regional, national and international meetings. Eighty percent of his undergraduates have gone on to earn doctorates in chemistry or have matriculated to advanced degrees in health.
“I strive to find opportunities for Furman students – and now students nationally and internationally – to deeply engage in the chemistry profession beyond the classroom,” he said.
For Furman more broadly, he said, “This award helps maintain the national reputation for excellence the department has built over many decades through the efforts of my creative and talented colleagues.”