Public Release: 

Boston University chemist receives Early Career Award from National Science Foundation

Boston University

Boston -- Sean Elliott, an assistant professor in Boston University's Department of Chemistry, recently received a Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for research that focuses on understanding the fundamentals of biological electron transfer, or how organisms convert chemicals into useful energy.

In addition to supporting the study of a series of iron-containing proteins called cytochromes that can either be used by nature as shuttles for electrons, or as sites of catalysis, the five-year grant will also allow Elliott to develop an undergraduate course curriculum that highlights the important interface between chemistry and biology.

The CAREER awards, among the most prestigious given by the NSF, recognize and support the early career-development activities of teacher-scholars who are most likely to become the academic leaders of the 21st century. Awardees are selected on the basis of creative plans that effectively integrate research and education within the context of the mission of their organization.

"This is very exciting news. In particular, I'm most proud as it reflects the success of my graduate and undergraduate students in the lab as well as in the classroom," said Dr. Elliott. "The award will support my work in developing cross-cutting curricula, but also high-risk, high-impact investigations of the components involved in biological electron transfer reactions in microbes. Through this, we'll be better equipped to understand how microbes are hard-wired to harness energy."

Elliott joined Boston University in 2002 and teaches both basic and advanced chemistry courses. Prior to coming to BU, he was a post-doctoral scholar at the University of Oxford where he studied protein film voltammetry, a technique that enables the examination of the reactions involved in electron transfer, and that aids in determining new insights into how enzymes work as machines. Elliott received his Ph.D. in chemistry from Caltech in 2000 and majored in chemistry and English as an undergrad at Amherst College.


Founded in 1839, Boston University is an internationally recognized institution of higher education and research. With more than 30,000 students, it is the fourth largest independent university in the United States. BU contains 17 colleges and schools along with a number of multi-disciplinary centers and institutes which are central to the school's research and teaching mission.

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