Chemist Shih-Yuan Liu lands a 2012 Camille Dreyfus award

University of Oregon chemist Shih-Yuan Liu has had a good year, topped off with being named one of the 14 national winners of a 2012 Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award.

The award, which comes from the New York-based Camille & Henry Dreyfus Foundation, supports the teaching and research of talented young faculty members in the chemical sciences. Liu's chemistry colleague Mark Lonergan received the award in 2001.

The Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award comes with an unrestricted $75,000 research grant, which will support Liu's pioneering work to develop boron-nitrogen heterocycles (ringed compounds) for materials and biomedical applications. His most-recent published work, in November, detailed his creation of hydrogen storage materials for use in fuel cells.

Soon after that publication in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, the U.S. Department of Energy awarded $2 million to be shared among three organizations for developing and testing hydrogen storage materials. Liu, a scientist in the UO's Material Science Institute, is principal investigator in the project.

About the time Liu was notified of his selection by the Dreyfuss Foundation, he also learned that had been promoted from assistant to associate professor, effective Sept. 16, in the Department of Chemistry and that he also had won the 2012 Award for Early Excellence from the Journal of Physical Organic Chemistry.

"It really has been a great year for me," said Liu, who also is a member of Oregon BEST (Built Environment & Sustainable Technologies Center). "This award from the Camille & Henry Dreyfus Foundation is an honor and an inspiration. It will allow me the flexibility to explore my ideas more fully."

The Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Awards Program supports faculty members at an early stage in their careers. Criteria for selection include an independent body of scholarship attained within the first five years of their appointment as independent researchers, and a demonstrated commitment to education, both of which signal the promise of continuing outstanding contributions to both research and teaching.

The program is open to U.S. academic institutions that grant a bachelor's or graduate degree in the chemical sciences, including biochemistry, materials chemistry, and chemical engineering. Recipients are selected from departments that feature doctoral programs, and in which scholarly research is a principal activity.

Liu joined the UO faculty in 2006. Before coming to Eugene, he spent three years as a postdoctoral researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he had earned a doctorate in organic chemistry in 2003. He completed the equivalent of bachelor's degree in chemistry from Vienna University of Technology in 1998.

Since 2010, Liu has served as director of the master's industrial internship program in organic synthesis. Also in 2010, he co-founded a private, Eugene-based company, Quintessence Chemicals, where he continues to serve as chief technology officer.