Timothy Hanks Faculty and Staff Chemistry Furman University

Tim Hanks joined the Chemistry Department at Furman University in 1990. He is currently Professor of Chemistry at Furman and also an Adjunct Professor in the Chemistry Department at Clemson University. He has held positions as a Visiting Professor in the Clemson School of Materials Science and Visiting Scientist at Départment du Recherche Fondamentale sur la Matiére Condensée, Commissariat á l’Energie Atomique in Grenoble, France.

Dr. Hanks is very active in the American Chemical Society (ACS). He holds the Awards Chair and Alternate Councilor positions for the Western Carolinas Section of the ACS, and he is a member of the ACS International Activities Committee. He has organized two Southeast Regional ACS meetings and has twice held the position of Chair of the SERMACS Board of Directors. He is also a recipient of the Ann Nalley Volunteer Services Award for the Southeast Region.

In 2011, Dr. Hanks spent six months as a Fulbright Senior Scholar and Visiting Scientist at the Intelligent Polymer Research Institute at the University of Wollongong, Australia. He is the one of the Directors of Furman’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates Program and actively collaborates with researchers in Australia and Israel. His research group is responsible for more than seventy publications in professional journals and books. In 2017, he was awarded the South Carolina Governor’s Award for Excellence in Scientific Research at an Undergraduate Institution.

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.


Organic Chemistry

Emphasis on the application of chemical principles to carbon compounds. Physical and chemical properties of the major organic functional groups, an introduction to stereochemistry, molecular stability, and related concepts of organic compounds are covered. Laboratory emphasizes reaction set-ups, recrystallization, distillation, extraction, and chromatography.


Bio-Organic Chemistry

Introduction to the organic chemistry of living systems. Topics include: the structure and chemistry of proteins, mechanistic enzymology, the organic chemistry of cofactors, DNA-drug interactions, and the biosynthesis of natural products.


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 Organic Chemistry

Investigation of the relationship between structure and reactivity in organic chemistry. Advanced topics include: structural types, bonding theories, reaction types, energetics, and synthetic methods as applied to organic molecules and materials.


Advanced Materials Chemistry

Introduction to the logical strategies for creating new materials. Discussions cover semi-conductors, soft-materials (polymers), nanostructured materials and techniques for materials characterization.


Topics in Chemistry

Topics important in various fields of modern chemistry designed as a tutorial to meet the special needs of individual students.


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.



Original laboratory research



Master's thesis

The Hanks group is working in two broad areas of soft materials synthesis and characterization, taking inspiration and materials from nature to craft functional structures.1 The first involves the preparation of ionomeric composites composed of polycationic conducting polymers such as polypyrrole or poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) with biopolymers such as dextran sulfate or alginates. Our long-term goals are to create scaffolds for neural tissue engineering and coatings for nervous system implantable electrodes.

Hanks research, figure 1

We are using 3D extrusion printers to build cell-infused constructs capable of external electrical stimulation.2 In related work, we have developed a method for modifying the surfaces of electronically conducting polymer films that allows for the control of protein adhesion and the prevention of biofouling. While initially of interest for implant materials, this technology also has wider applications as eco-friendly coatings in marine environments.3, 4, 5

Hanks research, figure 2

A second area of interest is the assembly of liposomes for use in drug delivery and biosensing. Long chain diacetylene amphiphiles assemble into polymerizable vesicles that are intensely blue in color. Physical stress causes a dramatic color change to a red color and also “turns-on” fluorophores embedded in the bilayer that are quenched in the blue form. Surface derivatization of the structures results in an affinity for bacteria and other species and this interaction can be converted into the stress needed to trigger the sensing system.6, 7, 8 We have recently shown that multiple liposomes, each with a different surface modification and fluorophore, can give a fluorescent “fingerprint” characteristic of a particular pathogen. Polymerization of the vesicles also almost completely stops leakage of species entrapped in the aqueous liposome core. We are developing novel methods to “pop” the liposomes in response to external conditions in order to controllably release drugs or other encapsulants.

Hanks research, figure 3

1 Introduction to Biomimicry and Bioinspiration in Chemistry Hanks, T. W.; Swiegers, G. F. in "Biomimicry and Bioinspiration in Chemistry" Swiegers, G. F. Ed. Wiley Inc., 2012.

2 Characterization of alginate-polypyrrole composites for tissue engineering scaffolds Wright, C.J.; Zhang, B.; Kuester, M.; Molino, P.J.; Hanks, T.W. Front. Bioeng. Biotechnol. Conference: 10th World Biomaterials Congress. 2016. doi: 10.3389/conf.FBIOE.2016.01.00314.

3 Functionalised Inherently Conducting Polymers as Low Biofouling Materials Zhang, B.; Nagle, A.; Wallace, G.G.; Hanks, T.W.; Molino, P.J. Biofouling 2015, 31, 493-502.

4 Polymers with antifouling properties Australian Provisional Patent, Application Number 2013901089, 2013.

5 Modification of Polypyrrole/Biopolymer Composites for Controlled Cellular Adhesion Molino, P. J.; Zhang, B.; Wallace, G. G.; Hanks, T. W. Biofouling 2013, 29, 1155-1167.

6 Polydiacetylene sensor interaction with food sanitizers and surfactants Zhang, Y.; Northcutt, J.; Hanks, T. W.; Miller, I.; Pennington, W. T.; Jelinek, R.; Han, I. Food Chem. 2017, 221, 515-520.

7 Efficient Production of Fluorescent Polydiacetylene-containing Liposomes for Pathogen Detection and Identification Wright-Walker, C. J.; Hansen, C. E.; Evans, M. A.; Nyers, E. S. Hanks, T. W. MRS Proceed., 2013, 1569, mrss13-1569-qq01-03 doi:10.1557/opl.2013.1099.

8 Polydiacetylene-based Smart Packaging Hill, S. C.; Htet, Y.; Kauffman, J.; Han, I. Y. Dawson, P. L. Pennington, W. T. Hanks, T. W. in Physical Methods in Food Analysis ACS Symp. Ser., Vol. 1138, pp 137-154, Tunick, M. H.; Onwulata, C. I., Eds., American Chemical Society, Washington, DC. 2013.


Ph.D., Montana State University
B.S., South Dakota School of Mines and Technology

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