Scott awarded fourth NSF grant in five years

Colleen N. Scott

Colleen N. Scott

Since joining Mississippi State University’s faculty in 2015, Assistant Professor Colleen N. Scott has received more than $1.6 million in awards from the National Science Foundation for her work in chemistry. Scott recently received her fourth NSF award in five years.

“With a funded NSF proposal hit rate of 30% in 2020, faculty are fortunate to have one grant in five years,” said Dennis W. Smith, Jr. professor and head of MSU’s chemistry department. “Four NSF grants in five years, including her prestigious NSF Early Career Award, is crazy success.”

Scott will use the newest NSF award -- a three-year $190,000 grant -- for her project on new approaches to narrow band electrochromics, a collaborative effort between Scott and Seth Marder, a researcher formerly from the Georgia Institute of Technology who now has taken his research to the University of Colorado-Boulder.

“The new effort focuses on advanced optoelectronic materials and builds upon a long-standing and fruitful collaboration with Professor Marder,” said Smith. “As a global leader in optoelectronic materials research and its applied development for defense and commercial applications, he is an ideal collaborator for complementing the innovations stemming from the Scott Lab. The collaboration recognizes MSU’s strong institutional commitment for continued growth in this important and highly competitive research space.”

Scott said the goal of her new project is to develop fast switching electrochromic materials -- materials that change color when voltage is applied -- using rhodamine-based dyes.

These applications are used in optical communication devices, eye protection glasses and smart window technology. Smart windows are widely used today to control the amount of incoming sunlight as well glare reduction.

“Since rhodamine dyes can go from a pure colorless -- or transparent -- state to a fully colored state, we plan to use voltage to stimulate the switch between those two states,” Scott said. “We can use various colored rhodamine dyes that are developed in our lab to do this switching chemistry.”

Scott received a NSF Early Career award in 2020 for research focused on extending the longevity of materials that are used in common everyday devices such as televisions, cell phones and medical devices, among others.

Scott also has two additional grants -- one that focuses on functionalizing C-H bonds to make optoelectronic materials through the NSF sponsored center for selective C-H functionalization (CCHF) and the other to develop near infrared (NIR) and short wave infrared (SWIR) dyes for optical imaging of biological tissues through the RII Track-1 Mississippi EPSCoR: Center for Emergent Molecular Optoelectronics (CEMOs).

Scott’s research laboratory focuses on the design, synthesis and characterization of advanced organic materials utilizing the tools of organic chemistry to create macromolecules with interesting properties and functions including; sustainable thermoplastics, conducting plastics, and organic dyes for chemical and/biological imaging and sensing. Her research on polymers has a range of application from adhesives, coatings, and industrial fabrics to structural components in the construction, biomedical and aerospace industries.

A native of Kingston, Jamaica, Scott earned her Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh in 2005 and her bachelor’s degree from Auburn University in 1998.

Part of MSU’s College of Arts and Sciences, complete details about the Department of Chemistry are available at

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at

Sarah Nicholas | College of Arts and Sciences

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