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Matera named to Rawls endowed professorship

Kathy Matera, a professor of chemistry, will spend the next two years as the Japheth E. Rawls Professor for Undergraduate Research in Science. 

Professor Kathy Matera in the Department of Chemistry has been named the next Japheth R. Rawls Professor for Undergraduate Research in Science.

Kathy Matera, the new Japheth R. Rawls Professor for Undergraduate Research in Science

‚ÄčThe honor is a rotating two-year professorship that supports the efforts of faculty engagement with students in the scholarship of scientific discovery. It is funded through a gift from the estate of Dr. Japheth E. Rawls Jr. ’35 and his wife, Virginia Riddick Rawls, and is for a faculty member in biology, chemistry, environmental studies, exercise science or physics.

“Kathy exemplifies the teacher-scholar-mentor model with an impressive and sustained record of mentoring students,” said Elon Provost Steven House. “You can find no better ambassador for studying in the sciences at Elon, which is evident by her relentless efforts to expand undergraduate research opportunities for students.”

Matera earned her doctorate in organic chemistry from the University of California at Davis and joined the Elon faculty in 2007 after chairing the Department of Chemistry at Baldwin-Wallace College in Berea, Ohio. She earned her bachelor’s degree in chemistry with a minor in biology from Pitzer College.

During the past 10 years, Matera has had more than two dozen students work in her research lab, including four Lumen Scholars, six Honors Fellows, eight Elon College Fellows, five varsity athletes and 15 Summer Undergraduate Research Experience students. She views independent research to be an integral part of the training a student receives, with the opportunity to develop and independent project, execute that project and present the findings as a pathway to understanding all that science encompasses.

“More than most disciplines, science is a hands-on endeavor, full of trial and error and repeated experiments, but a student does not get an opportunity to learn this without getting into lab themselves,” Matera said. 

Virtually all of her publications since joining the Elon faculty have included undergraduate researchers, with those students involved in all facets of the projects with her lab. As a Rawls professor, Matera plans to focus her research on “the oxidative mechanisms of biomolecules” with an emphasis on peptide aggregates and oxidative enzyme mechanisms that could help increase the understanding of many disorders and diseases including cancers and neurological disorders.

Matera has previously been named the A.L. Hook Emerging Scholar in Science and Mathematics, the Dr. Gerald L. Francis Outstanding Faculty Member of the Year and received the Faculty Teaching Award from Elon College, the College of Arts and Sciences.

Former Rawls Professors include:

Karl Sienerth, Chemistry (2001 – 2004)
Greg Haenel, Biology  (2004 – 2007)
Linda Niedziela, Biology (2007 – 2010)
Brant Touchette, Biology and Environmental Studies (2010 – 2013)
Eric Hall, Exercise Science (2013 – 2015)
Yuko Miyamoto, Biology (2015-2017)

Owen Covington,
8/21/2017 1:00 PM