Tracy R. Brown-Fox, Ph.D
Assistant Professor of Organic Chemistry
Dr. Brown is an assistant professor at Johnson C. Smith University in the Department of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. She holds her PhD in chemistry from Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta, GA, and teaches organic chemistry. She currently has a cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) with Forest Products Laboratory, and has been working on creating research projects centered on cellulose nanomaterials. Cellulose nanomaterials are renewable and sustainable materials and have properties that can be incorporated into a wide range of polymeric systems. Some applications for these materials include structural reinforcement, bio-sensing, drug delivery, and hosts for antimicrobial agents. Dr. Brown has already been successful with making films and gels with reduced silver nanoparticles, using cellulose nanomaterials and a green photocatalytic method. To date, Dr. Brown has developed several undergraduate research projects for students and serves as a research advisor on senior investigative projects (SIPs). These undergraduate research projects have led to oral and poster presentations at national conferences, including National Organization for Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE) and American Chemical Society (ACS). Dr. Brown has been awarded several institutional research grants to explore research interests of improving student education and research experiences in STEM disciplines. Currently, she is a Teaching and Learning Faculty Fellow, and works with other faculty across disciplines to examine metacognitive variables in student performances in various courses. Dr. Brown also has research experiences with faculty and scientists at Georgia Institute of Technology and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), where she has conducted research on modifying the chemistry and/or improving upon the physical and mechanical properties of high performance polymeric matrices and high-molecular weight polymers with the addition of nanomaterials (e.g. carbon nanotubes, carbon nanofibers, or nanoporous zeolites).
Targeted Infusion Project: Innovating the Research Educational Experiences in Johnson C. Smith University's lower/upper level Chemistry Courses
The Historically Black Colleges and Universities Undergraduate Program (HBCU-UP) through Targeted Infusion Projects supports the development, implementation, and study of evidence-based innovative models and approaches for improving the preparation and success of HBCU undergraduate students so that they may pursue STEM graduate programs and/or careers. Johnson C. Smith University will develop and implement polymer chemistry courses and research opportunities into the curriculum of the Department of Natural Sciences & Mathematics. Exposure to polymer science and widely used characterization instrumentation will better prepare undergraduates to pursue employment and graduate studies in an area that has strong employment and entrepreneurial opportunities, but has low representation of minorities.
The overall goal of the program is to design an upper level research course centered on the synthesis, characterization and application of synthetic and natural polymers. Specific project objectives include 1) the development of a Research in Polymer Science course that will introduce students to polymer science through student-led, faculty-advised research projects, 2) establish collaborations with local polymer-based industries through participation in project programming and 3) implement a Thermal Analysis Certificate program to increase the employability of JCSU students as technicians/scientists. Most importantly, this project will increase the institution's research capacity, thus providing additional opportunities for students to participate in active research projects.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.