MSU Chemistry Professor Gary J. Blanchard Awarded 2018 William J. Beal Outstanding Faculty Award

  • Feb 13, 2018
  • Gary Blanchard

Gary J. Blanchard is a rare type of scholar, leading his field in research, teaching, service, outreach and creative output. The defining characteristic of his work lies at the forefront of both optical spectroscopic characterization and cutting-edge materials science, especially the study of structurally organized assemblies and liquid-solid interfaces. His research addresses state-of-the-art materials systems using the cutting-edge tools of ultrafast optical spectroscopy to study how molecular diffusion is affected by the organization of functionalized surfaces, biological interfaces and lipid bilayers—work that has important implications for the understanding of cellular membrane organization, novel drug delivery methods and the design of optical devices.

Additionally, Prof. Blanchard has recently developed a technology for monitoring force magnitude and location in head trauma, which can help in detecting sports-related body impacts that can cause brain injury. He and a colleague recently launched two companies marketing this sensor technology as part of head caps and headbands for athletes. This technology is particularly relevant today, with concern for the implications of concussion, both short- and long-term, affecting sports play at all levels.

Prof. Blanchard has successfully maintained a well-funded research program over the entire course of his career. To date, he has published more than 200 articles in peer-reviewed journals in areas related to surface, interface and materials chemistry. He has been honored with a rare National Science Foundation Special Creativity Extension and the New York Section of the Society of Applied Spectroscopy’s Gold Medal Award.

As a colleague noted, “The scientific community has always been highly impressed by his scholarship, depth of understanding across a number of different research areas, and relentless attention to detail. His presentations are always packed with new insights.”

Gary is committed to his graduate and undergraduate students, having trained and mentored 30 Ph.D. candidates, nine master’s students and countless undergraduates. Blanchard goes the extra mile to make sure his students fully understand the course material and can put into practice what they have learned about measurement science and analytical chemistry. Known as both demanding and fair, his students respect him highly and consider him a strong role model.

For the strength of his research and the excellence of the educational environment in his laboratory, Blanchard is a most-worthy recipient of the William J. Beal Outstanding Faculty Award.