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Professor David W. Wright Named Department Chair

Professor David W. Wright has been appointed by Carolyn Dever, Dean of the College of Arts and Science, as Chair of the Department of Chemistry, effective July 1, 2014. Wright will succeed Prof. Michael P. Stone, who has served as Chair of the Department of Chemistry since 2009. Prof. Wright completed his doctoral dissertation at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology under the late Prof. Orme-Johnson, where he made significant contributions toward elucidating the structure of the co-factor of the enzyme nitrogenase. Subsequently, he moved to Boston College, for his post-doctoral research with Prof. William H. Armstrong on the structure and reactivity of the oxygen-evolving complex of Photosystem II. In 2001, Prof. Wright was recruited to Vanderbilt University as Assistant Professor of Chemistry. At Vanderbilt, his work is focused on the role of heme detoxification in the malaria parasite, leading to new approaches to drug discovery and low resource point-of-care diagnostics. The other area of his research is focused on the amazing structural processing of biomaterials in nature. He is interested in why beetle shells and butterfly wings are so iridescent, how diatoms make their intricate glass houses, and how these lessons can lead to new and revolutionary materials for applications such as biomedical sensors and next generation batteries. Prof. Wright has received a number of awards, including the Young Investigator Award from the Society of Infectious Diseases, a National Science Foundation CAREER award, and in 2011 was selected by the National Academy of Sciences and the Kavli Foundation as a Kavli Fellow at the Frontiers of Science.

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