Auburn chemical engineer receives top NSF honor

AUBURN – The National Science Foundation has selected a researcher in Auburn University’s Samuel Ginn College of Engineering for the agency’s award as one of America’s top junior faculty members.

The NSF recently chose Virginia Davis, an assistant professor of chemical engineering at Auburn, to receive the agency’s Faculty Early Development CAREER Award. Limited to a few individuals each year, the award recognizes outstanding college and university faculty members in the early stages of their careers and supports their research and outreach activities with funding for five years.

The award includes a grant of $400,000 to Davis for her work exploring 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.

“We are so pleased to have Virginia’s work recognized with this important award,” said Chris Roberts, Uthlaut Professor and chair of Auburn’s Department of Chemical Engineering. “It speaks directly to the quality of fundamental science and engineering contributions that will be derived from her work, as well as their far-reaching impact.”

As part of her CAREER award, Davis will continue to mentor and educate future scientists and engineers through outreach activities such as “nanocamps” for middle school girls and international research opportunities for chemical engineering undergraduate and graduate students.

“The goals of her CAREER plan are integral to the continued growth of our department,” said Roberts. “She is playing a vital role in future developments of research and education initiatives, undergraduate and graduate programs and how they move forward from here.”

Davis is Auburn’s third female CAREER award recipient. She has worked closely with Auburn’s Women in Sciences and Engineering Institute and Women’s Resource Center, which encourage the advancement and retention of women in science, mathematics and engineering fields, from kindergarten to advanced researchers. WISE is part of the women’s initiatives unit in Auburn’s Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs.

“With help from all across campus, we have created a supportive environment for Auburn women, including talented and hardworking young faculty like Virginia,” said Donna Sollie, assistant provost for women’s advancement. “Awards like this one, and the faculty members who earn them, continue to increase interest in these fields and help young women become excited about participating in science, technology, engineering and math, now as well as later in their careers.”

For more information about research in the Department of Chemical Engineering or the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering at Auburn University, go to

Contact: Sally Credille, (334) 844-3447 (, or
Mike Clardy, (334) 844-9999 (

Virginia Davis

Virginia Davis