Chemistry professor receives prestigious Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship

Wayne State University Associate Professor of Chemistry Long Luo has been named a 2023 Sloan Research Fellow. Awarded annually since 1955, the fellowship recognizes rising North American scientists pursuing innovative discoveries and grants them $75,000 for their research.

"I'm very honored to be named a Sloan Fellow," Luo said. "Our hardworking lab members and collaborators will be using this support to accelerate our search for potential solutions to some of the world's most pressing environmental, energy and health challenges."

Luo's lab explores new frontiers in electrocatalytic and electroanalytical sciences. One focus is the study of polyfluoroalkyl substances - chemicals that break down slowly over time and linger in Earth's environment, food supply and human inhabitants. Though prolonged exposure may cause health problems, current polyfluoroalkyl detection methods are cumbersome and costly. Luo hopes to identify simpler, less expensive techniques powered by electrochemistry.

"Having a Sloan Research Fellow in our department demonstrates the culture of innovation we have at Wayne State," said Department of Chemistry Chair Matthew Allen. "And it shows how being supportive of talented faculty, even professors in the early stages of their careers, can lead to exciting research breakthroughs."

Early career support

Even though he received his doctorate less than a decade ago, Luo has already received praise for his pioneering research.

In addition to receiving the Sloan Fellowship, Luo is the beneficiary of the Carl R. Johnson Early Career Endowed Professorship. Johnson, who was named a Sloan Fellow in 1955, is the former chair of the Wayne State Department of Chemistry and established the professorship in 2021 to encourage, recruit and retain world-class faculty.

"Wayne State University offers exemplary research opportunities and a stellar faculty, but we were losing rising stars to schools with deeper pockets," Johnson said at the time. "I established the endowed professorship so the Department of Chemistry could keep innovative thinkers here in Detroit and help our students reach their full potential."

Luo said his professorship has allowed him to remain relentless in pursuit of new advances.

"The support I receive at Wayne State has allowed me to focus on my research instead of looking for opportunities at other universities," Luo said. "Because our lab has been given what we need to be effective, we make a strong case to receive further support from other foundations who want to solve major issues."

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean Stephanie Hartwell said she is glad to see Luo receive recognition for his hard work.

"I am so proud that Dr. Luo's efforts are being recognized by the Sloan Foundation," said Hartwell. "It is gratifying to see Wayne State professors highlighted as thought leaders, and I cannot wait to celebrate the innovations Luo and his colleagues discover."

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