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Martin tapped for 2018 Faculty Mentor Award

Christopher Martin, associate professor of organic chemistry, was tapped for the Faculty Mentor Award at the Fifth Annual Undergraduate Research & Creative Activities Expo at Lamar University recently.

2018 Faculty Mentor Christopher MartinMartin has mentored 40 undergraduate students in research, presented this work at five national meetings, and published with undergraduate co-authors in peer-reviewed journals seven times. His research students demonstrate great success both at Lamar and after graduation and include Beck Fellows, McNair Scholars, medical physicians, Ph.D. chemists, and Ph.D. biologists 

“Each year the Office of Undergraduate Research recognizes one outstanding faculty mentor for his or her success in mentoring undergraduate students in research and creative activities,” said Kumer Das, interim associate provost for research and director, Lamar University Office of Undergraduate Research.

“This year the OUR advisory committee has chosen Dr. Martin to be the awardee because of his many qualities as an effective mentor,” Das said. “He has experience working with traditional chemistry majors, biochemistry majors, biology majors and chemical engineering majors.” 

The daylong event held in LU’s newly renovated Setzer Student Center showcased the breadth and depth of undergraduate research, and was sponsored by LU’s Office of Undergraduate Research. This year, the Expo included 112 presentations by 190 students working with 52 faculty mentors representing 25 academic departments, according to Das. LU’s first expo was hosted in 2014 with the work of 42 students from 21 academic departments. 

A banquet, featuring keynote speaker Christine Lambert, technical leader for emission control within powertrain research and advanced engineering at the Ford Research and Innovation Center in Dearborn, Michigan, will be held that evening. Lambert, who holds a Ph.D. in catalysis from Tulane University, is an alumna of Lamar University with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering. She holds 35 U.S. patents and is a Fellow of the Society of Automotive Engineers.

The Office of Undergraduate Research is dedicated to promoting and supporting student success through faculty-mentored undergraduate research, creative inquiry, and other scholarly experiences.

Originally from Van Wert, Ohio, Martin, began his academic career at Malone College in Canton, Ohio when he was awarded an REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Kentucky. This research experience was so transformative that he immediately transferred to UK where he then performed additional research in organic synthesis and physical organic eventually publishing two first-author papers in high-ranking, peer-reviewed journals.

After receiving his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from UK in 1999, he continued his education at The Ohio State University. There, Martin elected to broaden his training and experience by earning his master’s degree in chemistry by using computer simulations (computational chemistry) on short-lived photochemical reactions.

He then shifted to using microbiological studies to quantify the photochemical effects of a new technology on the inactivation of pathogens in donated blood in collaboration with Navigant Biotechnologies. This work not only earned Martin his Ph.D. in 2004, but also landed his name on a US patent based on his work.

Immediately after earning his Ph.D., Martin began his teaching career at Lamar University as an assistant professor teaching organic chemistry where he has continued his multi-disciplinary efforts with a targeted focus on undergraduate research experiences.

Martin served as a co-primary investigator on a research grant funded by the National Science Foundation of nearly $1 million led by Peggy Doerschuk, professor of computer science, alongside Cristian Bahrim, professor of physics, Jennifer Daniels, associate professor of mathematics, Joseph Kruger, associate professor of earth and space science, and Judy Mann, associate professor of psychology. Their work “Students Advancing through Involvement in Research Student Talent Expansion Program (STAIRSTEP)” began in 2009 and aims to increase the number of talented at risk undergraduate students receiving baccalaureate degrees in computer science, chemistry, physics, geology, earth science, and mathematics at Lamar University.

In 2013, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board recognized the program with its STAR Award as a program that had “made exceptional contributions to closing the gaps in student participation, student success, academic excellence, and/or research.”

Martin has also actively collaborated with faculty members in LU’s chemical and mechanical engineering departments studying industrial flaring using a variety of computational simulations since 2007.

His current research interests at Lamar include studying the unusual molecular rearrangements that a small class of molecules called furanones undergo upon exposure to light that may have implications for the pharmaceutical industry.