“If a soiled shirt is placed in a vessel containing grains of wheat, the reaction of the leaven in the shirt with fumes from the wheat will, after approximately twenty-one days, transform the wheat into mice”, Jan Baptist van Helmont, Flemish chemist, early 1600s.
Research at the interface of chemistry and biology can be challenging; misconception and miscommunication are a constant threat. Bridging this divide, however, can enhance the potential for deeper insights into the chemical phenomenon of life. Greg Springsteen’s training and research have focused on applying the principles of mechanistic organic chemistry to understanding life and its origins. He is a Theme Leader of a joint NSF/NASA research consortium called the Center for Chemical Evolution, which comprises ~18 research labs from across the country with diverse abilities to jointly tackle questions related to the chemical origins of life. In the last five years, the Springsteen lab, with 21 undergraduate researchers, has published six research articles on the chemical origins of life and won grant awards totaling ~$750,000 from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
Dr. Springsteen earned a B.A. in biology from the University of Virginia, followed by a Ph.D. from North Carolina State in synthetic organic chemistry. He finished his training at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) studying molecular evolution. He began his professional career at Furman University in 2006 and applies his diverse training to teach an array of classes including Organic Chemistry (CHM 120), Bio-organic Chemistry (CHM 220), Foundations of Chemistry (CHM 110), Biological Chemistry (CHM 460), Advanced Biological Chemistry (CHM 465), Experimental Techniques (CHM 240), and a first year seminar in Molecular Gastronomy (FYS 1152). His guiding principle in the classroom is to take full advantage of the fact that the joy of learning is irresistibly infectious. When treated with respect, Furman students will respond with full faith and effort.
Dr. Springsteen was named a Henry Keith and Ellen Townes Professor in 2016 and a South Carolina InnoVision Awardee in education technology in 2008.