Associate Professor of Chemistry Awarded NSF CAREER Award

L. Gaby Avila-Bront

Professor L. Gaby Avila-Bront Receives National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER award exceeding $400,000 through 2026

L. Gaby Avila-Bront, Holy Cross professor of chemistry, was recently awarded over $400,000 from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The award was given through the Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program and is the most prestigious award in support of early-career faculty granted by the NSF. The CAREER program is designed to support faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholar through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research.

"Going through the list of awardees from this year and seeing my name alongside the names of so many qualified and highly achieving individuals, many of whom used to be my classmates, is a surreal and humbling experience," said Avila-Bront. "It’s truly an honor to receive this award and I look forward to the science that comes out of this work!"

In her proposed project, Professor Avila-Bront seeks to understand the fundamental driving forces that determine how a mixture of different molecules bound to a surface forms a two-dimensional molecular pattern. It is currently not possible to precisely control the composition of a molecular pattern composed of dissimilar molecules on a surface and, prior to mixing, there is no knowledge of what two-dimensional patterns may form or what new properties of the surface will be observed. Successfully addressing these issues could provide scientists with unprecedented top-down control over surface modification with molecular patterning.

All of the research in Professor Avila-Bront’s lab is conducted and driven by undergraduate students. These students conduct experiments, analyze and interpret data and are encouraged to present their findings at scientific conferences. Additionally, Professor Avila-Bront hopes to establish a community outreach program — where undergraduate students work with elementary students on science-fair projects — and expand remote outreach to elementary schools with virtual workshops aimed at encouraging critical assessment of science in the popular media.

Professor Avila-Bront, who earned her Ph.D. in physical chemistry from the University of Chicago, has been with the College of the Holy Cross since 2014.