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Prof. Miller Recognized by Dreyfus Foundation

Associate Professor Stephen Miller
Recognized by Dreyfus Foundation

by Stacey Kutish

Stephen Miller, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry
Stephen Miller, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry

Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry Stephen Miller has been named a Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar for the 2011–2012 academic year by the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation. Miller is one of just six scholars who were named as recipients of the national award, which recognizes faculty at undergraduate institutions for leadership in research and education.

Miller researches bacterial communication. He explains “Bacteria can 'talk' to each by exchanging chemical signal molecules. In response to the signals, bacteria change which genes are turned on and, thus, their behavior. By coordinating their behaviors, bacteria gain a competitive advantage and start to act almost like multicellular organisms. In my lab, we study one of these signal molecules, and the proteins that detect and process them, at the molecular level. Unraveling the details of this bacterial 'language' opens the possibility of designing molecules that can be used to control bacterial behavior, molecules that could be used along with or instead of antibiotics.”

The Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Awards Program supports the research and teaching careers of talented young faculty in the chemical sciences. The award provides an unrestricted research grant of $60,000. Criteria for selection include an independent body of scholarship attained within the first five years of their appointment as independent researchers, and a demonstrated commitment to education, signaling the promise of continuing outstanding contributions to both research and teaching.

Provost Tom Stephenson says "I am delighted that the Dreyfus Foundation has recognized what we at Swarthmore have known all along: that Stephen is an outstanding teacher-scholar who has inspired our students in the classroom and been an excellent mentor in the laboratory. He is one of the leaders in his field."

The Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation is devoted to the advancement of the chemical sciences. It was established in 1946 by chemist, inventor, and businessman Camille Dreyfus, who directed that the foundation's purpose be “to advance the science of chemistry, chemical engineering and related sciences as a means of improving human relations and circumstances around the world."