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Dr. Vicki Colvin




Dr. Vicki Colvin is the Kenneth S. Pitzer-Schlumberger Professor of Chemistry and Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Rice University. A well-respected scientist, both locally and nationally, Vicki was appointed Vice Provost of Research in June 2011. In this role, she works with faculty colleagues to take Rice's $134.3 million research portfolio to the next level.

Vicki joined Rice in 1996, when she was recruited by the University to expand its nanotechnology program. In 2001, she became the first Director of Rice's Shared Equipment Authority, a nationally recognized model of infrastructure management that today manages more than 80 pieces of highly sophisticated research equipment. Most recently, she has served as the Director of the Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology (CBEN), which stands as one of the nation's first nanoscience and engineering centers and as Rice's largest NSF center. In the past, she also served as Faculty Director of the Smalley Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology.

Vicki's current research explores how nanoscale particles interact with the environment and living systems. Her research draws on both synthetic chemistry for the preparation and control of novel nanophase systems, and on physical chemistry for the investigation of these systems' unusual behavior. At present, the focus of her research projects is on the unique and responsive behavior of nanoparticles in complex systems such as cells, organisms, and the environment. On one hand, her research group looks toward understanding the implications of nanotechnology. She leads a multi-million dollar EPA grant to evaluate the bioavailability of nanoparticles in the aquatic natural environment. On the other hand, her group applies their fundamental knowledge of nanoparticles and their interactions to solve problems related to water purification and targeted cell death.

Colleagues hold Vicki's research in high esteem. She received both a Beckman Young Investigator award and an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship in 2000, and in that same year was named one of Discover Magazine's "Top 20 Scientists to Watch." Her research in low-field magnetic separation of nanocrystals was named one of the "Top Five Nanotech Breakthroughs of 2006" by the Forbes/Wolfe Nanotech Report, and resulted in her being named a "Best and Brightest Honoree" by Esquire Magazine the following year. In 2007, Vicki was named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world's largest general scientific society, and in early 2011, she was named a Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering.

The author/co-author of more than 100 articles, Vicki is a frequent contributor to Science, Advanced Materials, Physical Review Letters, and other peer-reviewed journals. She holds five patents, with eight patent applications in process. A highly successfully principal investigator, she has been awarded more than 20 grants, bringing more than $30 million to the University. In addition, Vicki is highly engaged in professional activities. Currently, she serves as the chairperson for the NIH review panel on Nanomedicine; as an external advisor to the journal Small; and as a board member for the Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP), an environmental science and technology program funded by the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) and implemented in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

In the recent past, Vicki served as a member of the President's Council of Advisors for Science and Technology (2010), the Intelligence Science Board (2009-2010), and the Nano Health-Environment Commented Database (2008-2010).

Vicki's accomplishments, however, are not limited to research. She is also an outstanding teacher, as evidenced by the numerous accolades she has received for her teaching abilities. Among these are the Phi Beta Kappa's Teaching Prize (1998-1999) and the Camille Dreyfus Teacher Scholar Award (2002).

Vicki received her Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry and physics from Stanford University in 1988, and in 1994 obtained her Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley, where she focused on the electronic structure of semiconductor nanocrystals. During her time at UC, Berkeley, she was awarded the American Chemical Society's Victor K. LaMer Award for her work in colloid and surface chemistry. Vicki completed her postdoctoral work at AT&T Bell Labs; while there, she conducted research on vibrational spectroscopy of glasses and polymers, as well as on photonic applications of nanocomposite photopolymers.

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