Laura L. Wright Faculty and Staff Chemistry Furman University

Dr. Laura Wright graduated in 1977 with the first American Chemical Society-certified bachelor of science degree in chemistry granted by California State University, Dominguez Hills. She was awarded the initial Alumni Association Outstanding Achievement Award at commencement. She then pursued graduate studies at the University of California, Riverside where she earned both an M.S. and Ph.D. in the field of structural inorganic chemistry. Dr. Wright’s postdoctoral research at the University of Colorado in Boulder investigated hydrodesulfurization catalysis for purification of hydrocarbon fuels.

She joined the faculty at Furman University in 1983. At Furman she has enjoyed teaching introductory chemistry courses, inorganic courses, and the Techniques of Chemistry course. Dr. Wright has maintained an active research group, mentoring more than 70 students in her lab. She had the opportunity to gain expertise working with atomic force microscopy while on sabbatical at the University of Arizona characterizing organometallic thin film formation. Upon her return to Furman, she set up Furman’s scanning probe microscopy lab. Her research has overlapped many times with industrial partners while investigating a wide variety of interesting projects.

Dr. Wright has received both the Alester G. Furman and Janie Earle Furman Meritorious Teaching Award (2009) and Advising Award (2014), joining an elite group who have received both prestigious awards. In 2014, she became chair of the chemistry department.

Dr. Wright has been very active in the local section of the American Chemical Society (ACS). She has served on the steering committee for both the Southeast Regional Meetings of ACS in Greenville, one of which won a Chem Luminary Award for Best Regional Meeting from the National ACS, and she has served as the Chair of the Western Carolinas Local Section. She has also served as a Chemistry Councilor with the Council on Undergraduate Research.

Dr. Wright is married to Tom Taylor. They live in Greenville with their cats who love to bring them gifts of frogs and snakes from the lake in the back yard.​​

Name Title Description


Seminar in Chemistry

Seminars presented based on current literature. Presentations include articles detailing the application of chemical principles and techniques to the natural environment. Surveys of assigned journals are presented individually; more detailed presentations are made by small groups working as teams. Topics include: coverage of recent important developments, global awareness of the application of chemistry to the natural world, experience in making scientific presentations, and encouragement of good literature reading habits.


Foundations of Chemistry

Introduction to the principles of chemistry. Topics include: atomic and molecular structure and chemical bonding, stoichiometry, properties of the states of matter, and energetics of chemical reactions with emphasis on problem solving, conceptual understanding, and analytical reasoning. Laboratory focuses on quantitative measurements and interpretation of data.


Inorganic Chemistry

Introduction to inorganic topics, beginning with the Periodic Table. Topics include: main-group chemistry, nuclear chemistry, transition metal chemistry, and solid state chemistry will be explored in more depth. Connections between theory and observation will be highlighted


Experimental Techniques

Laboratory exercises involving multi-step synthesis, purification, and analysis of both organic and inorganic compounds. Use of modern chemical instrumentation, utilization of the chemical literature, and the oral and written presentation of experimental data are requirements.


Intro to Research Methods

An introduction to the fundamental protocols of modern laboratory research, including chemical safety, information fluency, and instrumentation methods. Additional topics include scientific ethics, data preservation, and individualized instruction on project specific techniques.


Advanced Research Methods

An exploration of the techniques and protocols of modern laboratory research, including chemical safety, information fluency, and advanced instrumentation methods. Additional topics include scientific ethics, data analysis, and individualized instruction on project specific techniques.


Technical Writing in Chemistry

An introduction to the fundamental aspects of scientific writing. Additional topics include literature resources, data presentation, and individualized instruction on project specific written presentations.


Adv Tpcs in Inorganic Chem

Investigation of the relationship between structure and reactivity in inorganic chemistry. Advanced topics include: structural types, bonding theories, reaction types, energetics, and spectroscopy as applied to transition metal complexes, organometallic complexes, solid state materials, and bioinorganic species.


Graduate Seminar in Chemistry

Students present seminars based on current literature. Surveys of assigned journals are presented individually; more detailed presentations are made by small groups.

Research in Dr. Wright’s group is currently focused on investigating methods to immobilize florescent materials in self assembled monolayers on surfaces. Nature guides chemists in the use of simple intermolecular forces to perform self-assembly. The introduction of a polar head group and a nonpolar tail will allow a molecule to naturally align itself so that the polar end will be attracted to a polar surface while the nonpolar tails align with other tails to form an organized monolayer under controlled conditions. Dr. Wright’s group is modifying the monolayer components such that they will be able to intercalate other molecules that can be photo-polymerized into the monolayer. The photopolymerization process creates the possibility of tailoring the resulting surface to serve as a sensor for specific purposes. To determine whether the surfaces have incorporated the desired new sensing components Wright’s research students use a combination of atomic force microscopy, contact angle measurements, fluorescence microscopy and emission spectroscopy to characterize the new materials formed.

Ph.D., University of California, Riverside
M.S., University of California, Riverside
B.S., California State University, Dominguez Hills

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