Research in the Boydston group focuses on various aspects of macromolecular design, synthesis, and function. By controlling the microstructures of polymer and network materials, the Boydston group is discovering ways in which macroscopic mechanical forces can be used to guide precise, molecular-level chemical transformations. Materials that display this mechanochemical transduction capability may find application in numerous fields, including biomedical engineering, drug delivery, additive manufacturing (3D printing), and autonomously self-healing systems.
A team of four Chemistry faculty members was awarded the 2015 Distinguished Teaching Award for Innovation with Technology. Lecturers Jasmine Bryant and Colleen Craig and Assistant Professors AJ Boydston and Stefan Stoll were jointly recognized for their innovative use of technology in our instructional program. They will be honored with other 2015 Awards of Excellence recipients at a public ceremony on Thursday, June 11, at 3:30 pm in Meany Hall.
While the team members have each worked to improve student learning through technology in their individual courses, the overall impact has been broad. Their courses cover the range in our curriculum, from large undergraduate lecture courses in introductory general chemistry (Bryant, Craig) and organic chemistry (Boydston, Bryant) up to courses for our senior majors and graduate students (Stoll). Within Chemistry, the team serves as a resource for our faculty, piloting and vetting new technologies, advising our faculty on how best to adopt these technologies, generating a repository of modules, video mini-lectures, and tutorials shared among faculty, and making major contributions to curricular redesign. They have lowered the barrier for other faculty to make changes in their teaching, facilitating peer learning among colleagues in Chemistry as well as in other departments across campus. The efforts of all four are appreciated by the thousands of students they teach each year, who consistently reward their efforts with outstanding student course evaluation ratings.
Team members have been recognized for their experience and expertise in teaching at the local and national level. Bryant and Craig have participated in the Cottrell Scholars Collaborative National Teaching Assistant Workshop as well as a variety of teaching and learning initiatives at the UW, and Bryant received the 2013 “Most Engaging Lecturer” Award from the UW Panhellenic Association & Interfraternity Council. The Research Corporation for Science Advancement has honored Boydston (2014) and Stoll (2015) with the Cottrell Scholar Award, which recognizes 10-15 innovative early career teacher-scholars in chemistry, physics and astronomy at U.S. institutions.
The University of Washington established the Distinguished Teaching Award in 1970 and five are given annually to faculty members from the Seattle campus. Recipients are chosen based on a variety of criteria, including mastery of the subject matter; enthusiasm and innovation in the teaching and learning process and in course and curriculum design; to inspire, guide, and mentor students through independent and creative thinking; and mentoring other faculty and teaching assistants to help enrich the scholarship of teaching and learning. Faculty members in Seattle who receive the Distinguished Teaching Awards are inducted into the UW Teaching Academy, where they will be able to participate in a variety of Academy-sponsored projects and events to further excellence in the teaching and learning process at the UW.
Boydston, Bryant, Craig, and Stoll will be honored with the other 2015 Awards of Excellence recipients at a public ceremony on Thursday, June 11, at 3:30 pm in Meany Hall. For more information about the 2015 Awards of Excellence, which honor UW achievements in teaching, mentoring, public service, and staff support, please visit the Awards of Excellence website.
Research by Assistant Professor AJ Boydston and his group has been featured in two recent articles in the American Chemical Society’s Chemical & Engineering News. An article in the December 18, 2014 issue highlights his research on polymers that change color when stretched (http://cen.acs.org/articles/92/web/2014/12/3-D-Printed-Polymer-Devices.html). Just one month later, an article in the January 19, 2015 issue summarized the Boydston group’s research on a metal-free route to prepare polymers (http://cen.acs.org/articles/93/i3/Radical-Polymer-Approach.html).
Assistant Professor AJ Boydston has received a CAREER (Faculty Early Career Development) Award from the National Science Foundation. The CAREER Program is a Foundation-wide program that “offers the National Science Foundation’s most prestigious awards in support of junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations.” Professor Boydston received the award for his research proposal, “CAREER: Development of Force-Activated Materials for the Release of Small Organic Molecules”. This award funds research to develop materials capable of releasing small organic molecules via mechanochemical transduction. In this way, macroscopic forces will be translated into molecular-level chemical reactions. In particular, Professor Boydston will be:
- Investigating how mechanical force can be used to guide chemical reactivities. This will include comparisons between mechanophores that operate by complementary bond bending and stretching mechanisms.
- Developing mechanochemical triggers for initiating head-to-tail depolymerization of self-immolative polymers.
- Establishing design principles for materials that most efficiently convert mechanical input into chemical output.
In addition to providing new insights and capabilities for functional materials, Professor Boydston maintains an active commitment to STEM education through interactions with various on-campus organizations and curriculum development with Sammamish High School.
For more information about this NSF CAREER Award, please visit the award website.
For more information about AJ Boydston and his research program, please visit his faculty page.
AJ Boydston, University of Washington assistant professor of chemistry, has been selected as one of 12 Cottrell Scholar Awardees for 2014. The awards are presented by the Research Corporation for Science Advancement (RCSA) to early career faculty who are committed to excel at both research and teaching. RCSA Interim President Jack Pladziewicz, notes, “It may well be that not all research faculty can do this simultaneously and early in their careers, but the very best can.” Previous awardees from the Department of Chemistry at the University of Washington include Professors David Ginger, Daniel Gamelin, Sarah Keller, and Phil Reid.
Boydston’s research group is developing synthetic materials capable of mechanochemical transduction. They have recently reported “flex activated” mechanophores, which are capable of converting mechanical input into chemical output via force-guided changes in molecular-level geometry. Boydston has also been active in redesigning his introductory organic chemistry course to help undergraduate students learn how to apply concepts and develop problem-solving strategies, similar to how experts in the field approach their research. The Cottrell Scholar Award, which provides $75,000 in funding, will help support Boydston’s ongoing research and teaching efforts.
Dr. Boydston received his B.S. and M.S. degrees from the University of Oregon where he did research with Professor Michael M. Haley, and later earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin in 2007 under the direction of Professor Christopher W. Bielawski. Dr. Boydston is currently a postdoctoral research associate with Professor Robert H. Grubbs at the California Institute of Technology, where his work currently focuses on nanostructures based on cyclic polymer topologies.
Dr. Boydston will begin his research program here in July, focusing on the design, synthesis, and application of functional organic materials and the development of new reaction methodology. For more information, please visit his faculty page and his research group website, or contact him directly via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.