University of Rochester

Professor Wins $75,000 Teaching-Scholar Honor in Chemistry

July 19, 2005

The 2005 Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award, designed to strengthen the teaching and research careers of young faculty researchers, has been won by Todd Krauss, assistant professor of chemistry at the University of Rochester. Krauss is one of 16 recipients of the award this year. His research, including work on the intricacies of nano-size structures, such as carbon nanotubes, earned him the $75,000 honor.

“Todd’s accomplishments are impressive indeed,” says Robert Boeckman, Jr., chair of the Department of Chemistry. “Todd has a natural inquisitiveness and sense of what the significant problems are in his field. He’s also made the transition to teacher-scholar with ease, bringing innovative instructional activities to his research programs. With the expected continued growth of the stature of his research program, we are certain that Todd will be recognized shortly as one of the very top people in the field of nanoscale materials.”

Krauss is in his fifth year at the University after earning his doctorate in applied physics from Cornell University in 1998, and conducting his postdoctoral work in chemistry at Columbia University until 2000. In his initial years at Rochester, he quickly developed an expansive research program in nanometer-scale materials and devices. His research has spread into three categories: determining fundamental optical properties of single semiconductor nanoparticles, of individual carbon nanotubes, and finding ways to use these nanometer scale materials for novel applications in biotechnology and photonics.

The carbon nanotube research involves studies of cylinders of tightly bonded carbon atoms that have dazzled scientists and engineers with their seemingly endless list of special abilities—from incredible tensile strengths to revolutionizing computer chips. Krauss, along with other University researchers, recently found that under the right conditions, these nanotubes can produce a narrow and steady photon emission that can potentially make such fields as quantum cryptography and single-molecule sensors a practical reality.

Krauss is also working on methods to detect pathogens using custom-designed loops of DNA that emit colored light in the presence of a specific organism’s DNA. A loop-laden chip could be used to detect anything from a bacterium or virus to the specific DNA of a plant or person.

Krauss’s research group has attracted several graduate students, and his initial results have led to awards from NYSTAR, the Army Research Laboratory, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and a National Science Foundation grant. He has also been a leader in the introduction of a Peer-Led Team Learning (PLTL) workshop approach to instruction in general chemistry. This approach has given rise to the development of workshops and training of workshop leaders for general chemistry courses and the initiation of the development of a nanomaterials-based honors freshman chemistry course. Nearly half of freshmen enroll in chemistry and can experience the benefits of the PLTL program.

The Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award was founded in 1969 to encourage young faculty members’ research in the chemical sciences while maintaining a solid commitment to the education of students. The award is given by The Camille & Henry Dreyfus Foundation, Inc.