Brian J. Smith

I grew up in southern New Jersey, the eldest of two with my dad working for a delivery company and my mom working for the local school district — growing up my parents put a strong emphasis on our education. I began my first generation college experience at Georgetown University in Washington DC, three hours away from home, in August 2001. Within the first two weeks, the city was transformed by the Sept. 11 attacks, and I rapidly had some of my first exposure engaging with the broader world on my independent path. My college experience allowed me to grow as an individual, including the opportunity to study abroad in Glasgow, Scotland my junior year. I was immediately drawn to the collegiate academic environment, the combination of philosophical classroom debate and hands-on laboratory research — so much so that I ended up majoring in both classics and chemistry. After graduation, I spent a year volunteer teaching high school science and then began my PhD studies in chemistry out at Stanford University. After a postdoctoral research position at Cornell, I came to Bucknell to both teach and do independent research.

I am extremely interested in materials chemistry — understanding how the structure of solids at the molecular level controls its properties and how we use them. We work on making new materials for large scale challenges — like improving water purification or controlling how medicines dissolve in the body. It's a little surprising to me to look back and realize how large an impact my first year of college had on my life path — from the career I've followed to even the topics I study. That chance to do research early on, and add something (even small!) to scientific knowledge, still excites me today.