MRL Associate Director Catherine Jones Murphy Named MRS Fellow


Catherine Jones Murphy, known as Cathy to friends and colleagues, is the Peter C. and Gretchen Miller Markunas Professor of Chemistry, Associate Director of the Materials Research Lab (MRL), and will be adding Materials Research Society (MRS) Fellow to her list of accolades. 


This lifetime appointment by the MRS seeks to recognize outstanding members who have made ongoing, distinguished contributions to the advancement of materials research. Professor Murphy fits the bill: she has been a leader in the area of inorganic nanomaterials for over a decade, making key contributions to gold nanorods that have had an enormous impact on the materials community and beyond. 


According to Chemistry and Materials Science and Engineering Professor Kenneth Suslick, who nominated Cathy for the award, the impact of her work on other fields of science and engineering has also been immense. “Her work has broadened nanomaterials research to encompass many non-traditional areas,” Professor Suslick said. “Her achievements to enable precise control over the size and shape of gold and silver nanoparticles laid the foundation not only for her own later work, but also that of hundreds of others on the use of these materials in sensors, drug delivery agents, therapeutic agents, optical switching devices, electronic inks, and more.”


Cathy Murphy, MRS Fellow
Cathy Murphy, MRS Fellow

Cathy Murphy, MRS Fellow

“It’s a great honor, that’s for sure. And not just for me, but this award recognizes all the students who have been in the lab,” Cathy said. 


Cathy described her interesting work with gold nanoparticles, saying that you can control the shape of the particle and color of light gold absorbs in the nanoscale. Different properties arise due to the particle shape. She also said her work is different from many other materials scientists, as she does all of her experiments at room temperature. “Many materials have to be heated to very high temperatures for fabrication — what we are able to do with gold is all at room temperature, in water, and very safe for everyone involved.” 


Paul Braun, Director of the MRL, said this awarding was “outstanding news,” mentioning that less than 20 scientists and engineers are chosen for this highly selective award annually.


Professor Murphy is best known for her landmark papers from 2001-2005 that cover the synthesis, crystal growth, and surface chemistry of gold nanorods. She provided the two essential pieces of nanorod technology, including how to make nanorods reproducibly in high yield and how to control the molecular interface between the nanoparticle and the biological world. 


Cathy will be recognized on April 19 and 20 at the MRS Spring Meeting Awards Presentation. 


Learn more about Professor Murphy’s Research Group: