Auburn chemical engineer to link art and science in talk at Jule Collins Smith Museum

Virginia Davis image
AUBURN – Virginia Davis, an associate professor in Auburn’s Department of Chemical Engineering, will present the public lecture, “The History and Future of Nanotechnology in Art,” Thursday, March 24, from 5-7 p.m. at the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art at Auburn University.

In her talk, Davis will discuss how the size and shape of particles determine color, and how recent scientific advances help us understand not only phenomena such as the iridescence of butterfly wings, but also practical applications such as how to make more durable paint.

Davis, as one of a growing number of researchers interested in the connections between science and art, will introduce a new form of artistic photography using recent advances in sub-microscopic imaging technologies and nanoparticle research. The images produced by her research team have been featured in journals, book covers and a microscope product brochure.

Art is a key component not only of Davis’ research but also of the activities she conducts with middle and high school students to help them learn about nanotechnology. An example of her outreach activities is mentoring and educating future scientists and engineers through “nanocamps” for middle school girls.

In her research, Davis explores how ultra-small materials, known as nanomaterials, can be assembled into newer, more advanced materials, including macroelectronic devices, sensors, electro-optical devices and antimicrobial coatings that could prevent diseases from spreading on contaminated surfaces.

Davis received her Ph.D. from Rice University. Her recent awards include the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers; a National Science Foundation CAREER award; and the Auburn Engineering Alumni Council’s award for junior faculty research.

This free public event is co-sponsored by the Auburn University Office of University Outreach. For more information about this event and for general information about the museum, go to or call (334) 844-1484.

(Contributed by Colleen Bourdeau.)

Contact: Colleen Bourdeau, (334) 844-7075 (, or
Mike Clardy, (334) 844-9999 (