Dr. Jay A. Switzer, the Donald L. Castleman Distinguished Professor of Chemistry at the University of Missouri-Rolla, received the Presidential Award for Research and Creativity from the University of Missouri.
The award was presented May 31 during an evening ceremony hosted by interim University of Missouri President Gordon H. Lamb and his wife, Nancy, in Columbia.
The Presidential Award for Research and Creativity recognizes a faculty member with a sustained record of national and international quality research or creativity.
Switzer is an international leader in materials synthesis by electrodeposition, an area at the interface between chemistry, electrochemistry, materials science and solid-state physics. Since joining UMR in 1990, he has produced numerous patents and journal articles, including four Science papers and a Nature paper.
His current research focuses on chiral electrochemical sensors, which could be useful to the pharmaceutical industry.
“Most important drugs on the market are chiral – they exist as either right-handed or left-handed molecules,” Switzer explains. One “hand” of the molecule is effective as a drug, the other is ineffective at best and occasionally toxic. “The chiral surfaces we produce could be used as catalysts to produce the chiral pharmaceuticals or as sensors to measure their concentration, perhaps even as implantable sensors in the human body.”
Other current projects include research into epitaxial electrodeposition of metal oxides, spintronics and electrochemical biomineralization.
He is the recipient of three simultaneous grants from the National Science Foundation, as well as funding from the Department of Defense and other agencies. He also received the American Chemical Society’s Midwest Award for Outstanding Scientist in 2006.
One of Switzer’s colleagues writes that he is an “outstanding scientist whose contributions to ceramic and electrodeposition technology have revolutionized the field. He has also distinguished himself through his service to the chemistry community.”
Switzer earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Cincinnati and a master’s degree and a doctorate, both in inorganic chemistry, from Wayne State University.