T. Daniel Crawford, professor of chemistry in the College of Science at Virginia Tech, has received the 2012 Alumni Award for Excellence in Research.

Sponsored by the Virginia Tech Alumni Association, the Alumni Award for Excellence in Research is presented annually to as many as two Virginia Tech faculty members who have made outstanding research contributions. Alumni, students, faculty, and staff may nominate candidates. Each recipient is awarded $2,000.

Crawford joined the Virginia Tech community in 2000 and has since been recognized for his groundbreaking work in theoretical and computational chemistry. Over the past 10 years, Crawford has developed a series of quantum mechanical models capable of high-accuracy simulations of the interaction of polarized light with chiral molecules, a class of compounds that includes most modern medicines ranging from chemical sedatives to anti-tumor agents. These new computational tools will shorten the development time of new chiral drugs.

In addition, Crawford is the first author and lead developer of a suite of quantum chemical computer programs that he and his collaborators distribute freely under an open-source software license. Computational chemists around the world have applied these programs to an array of chemical problems, and 10,000 copies of the program have been distributed.

Crawford has authored or co-authored 88 peer-reviewed publications and received nearly 100 invitations from around the world to lecture on his work. In 2009, he was a visiting professor at two universities in Norway, and he has active research collaborations with researchers in 10 different countries. 

Crawford’s awards and honors include a Camille and Henry Dreyfus New Faculty Award (2000), Research Innovation Award (2000), and a Cottrell Scholar (2003). He is the recipient of a National Science Foundation Faculty Career Development Award, several teaching awards, and the 2010 Dirac Medal of the World Association of Theoretical and Computational Chemists as the “outstanding computational chemist in the world under the age of 40.”

“In contrast to more approximate models, the rigorous theories developed by Daniel’s group allow us to predict, rather than rationalize, the optical activity of a particular molecule,” said David Kingston, University Distinguished Professor of Chemistry.

Edward Valeev, assistant professor of chemistry, added “Daniel attacks some of the most challenging problems of today’s computational chemistry. Although his work is rigorous and technically complex, he manages to explain it with superb clarity in lectures and publications.”

Crawford received his bachelor’s degree from Duke University and his Ph.D. from the University of Georgia.



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