Texas A&M University President Michael K. Young (right) and Texas A&M Chemistry Head Simon W. North (left) jointly presented Texas A&M chemist David C. Powers (center) with his 2017 Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU) Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award.


Dr. David C. Powers, an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry at Texas A&M University, has been selected to receive a 2017 Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU) Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award recognizing his research accomplishments and career potential.

Powers is one of 37 nationwide recipients of the prestigious award, which provides $5,000 in seed money to fund research conducted by junior faculty at ORAU member institutions. The one-year grants are matched by the member institutions and intended to enrich the research and professional growth of young faculty in the early stages of tenure-track positions in any of five science and technology disciplines: engineering or applied science; life sciences; mathematics and computer science; physical sciences; and policy, management or education.

Powers joined the Texas A&M faculty in 2015 after obtaining his Ph.D. in organic chemistry at Harvard University in 2011 and completing a four-year National Institutes of Health (NIH)/National Research Service Award (NRSA) Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard. His research program at Texas A&M seeks to address unsolved problems in chemical synthesis and energy conversion using new approaches to chemical catalysis. By combining the tools of modern organic, inorganic, and organometallic chemistry with detailed spectroscopic and computational investigations, the Powers Laboratory is working to develop new catalysts and catalysis strategies to tackle a range of synthetic problems.

"David is a remarkably talented and creative young chemist who is applying his intellectual expertise and innovative ideas to develop chemistry strategies to impact the future of energy harvesting and conversion as well as therapeutic discovery and manufacturing -- two areas that are certain to improve health and wellbeing," said Dr. Simon W. North, professor and head of Texas A&M Chemistry.

As a graduate student at Harvard, Powers pursued an innovative line of organometallic research aimed at understanding and applying carbon-hydrogen oxidation reactions catalyzed by polynuclear palladium complexes. His work there resulted in two patents and 13 peer-reviewed publications, six of which have been cited in excess of 100 times.

During his four-year fellowship, Powers concentrated on problems in solar energy conversion, developing inorganic photochemistry and demonstrating new methods for studying solid-state metal-catalyzed reactions in the context of solar-fuel synthesis. To date, his research in this pioneering area has resulted in a dozen publications, along with new molecular platforms for energy conversion and new approaches to understanding the solid-state chemistry involved.

"At his early career stage, David has demonstrated uncommon scholarly excellence and creativity, and has cultivated an interdisciplinary skill set that positions him to pursue his goals," North said. "He has a rare talent for connecting fundamental scientific principles to applications of science with potential benefit in a wide range of industries, including energy and healthcare."

In combination with departmental matching funding, the Powe Award will help Powers to establish a valuable new collaboration with Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Spallation Neutron Source, which he hopes to use in his efforts to develop new sample holder technologies capable of allowing in situ characterization of photogenerated materials via inelastic neutron scattering.

ORAU, located in the heart of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, is a consortium of major Ph.D.-granting academic institutions designed to cultivate collaborative partnerships that enhance the scientific research and education enterprise in our nation. Founded by William G. Pollard in 1946, the Oak Ridge Institute of Nuclear Studies (ORINS), now known as ORAU, developed as a support system for both the federal government and 14 southern universities.

Today, ORAU provides innovative scientific and technical solutions to advance national priorities in science, education, security and health. For more than 65 years, ORAU has partnered with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and other government agencies. Through specialized teams of experts, unique laboratory capabilities and access to a consortium of more than 100 major Ph.D.-granting institutions, ORAU works with federal, state, local and commercial customers to advance national priorities and serve the public interest. A 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation and federal contractor, ORAU manages the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) for the DOE.

See the complete list of 2017 Powe Award winners here. For more information on fellowships, awards and grants offered by ORAU, visit www.orau.org/consortium/programs.

To learn more about Powers and his research, go to http://www.chem.tamu.edu/faculty/david-powers/.

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About Research at Texas A&M University: As one of the world's leading research institutions, Texas A&M is at the forefront in making significant contributions to scholarship and discovery, including that of science and technology. Research conducted at Texas A&M represented annual expenditures of more than $892.7 million in fiscal year 2016. Texas A&M ranked in the top 20 of the National Science Foundation's Higher Education Research and Development survey (2015), based on expenditures of more than $866.6 million in fiscal year 2015. Texas A&M's research creates new knowledge that provides basic, fundamental and applied contributions resulting, in many cases, in economic benefits to the state, nation and world. To learn more, visit http://research.tamu.edu.


Contact: Shana K. Hutchins, (979) 862-1237 or shutchins@science.tamu.edu or Dr. David C. Powers, (979) 862-3089 or david.powers@chem.tamu.edu

Hutchins Shana

  • Dr. David C. Powers

  • (From left:) Powers and President Young.

  • Powers visits with Texas A&M chemistry graduate student Shengxiang Wu at the 2017 Dow Symposium and Graduate Awards Ceremony.

  • The Powers Research Group (Credit: David Powers.)

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