New Chair Named to Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology

Release Date: 
Aug 8 2012

Nigel Richards

The School of Science at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) has hired Dr. Nigel Richards, Ph.D., as a professor of chemistry and chairman of the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology.

Richards, who comes to IUPUI after a 21-year a career at the University of Florida, brings a national reputation as a scholar and researcher in the fields of experimental and computational enzymology. His expertise lies in understanding the structure and mechanism of enzymes that may be significant for the development of new therapies to treat cancer and other diseases.

“Dr. Richards is an international leader in biological chemistry,” said Simon Rhodes, dean of the School of Science. “He is respected for his commitment to both research and teaching. He has the vision and drive to take the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology to the next level.”

By expanding on strong inter-disciplinary partnerships between the school and other local research and medical facilities, Richards said he is confident the department has the talent and expertise to be a nationally recognized center for research in chemical biology, a rapidly expanding field at the interface of chemistry and biology.

“Clearly there is an energy and excitement among the faculty and administration at IUPUI,” Richards said. “The department, although small, has a great balance of experienced researchers and teachers along with a talented group of junior faculty. I really think we can do some innovative things.”

Richards joined the faculty this summer and immediately began mapping out a plan to increase collaborations between chemistry faculty and other researchers, locally and across the country. He envisions the School of Science as a major research hub in chemical biology, and perhaps one that can drive developments in the emerging field of synthetic biology.

Richards also plans to expand partnerships with local and regional industry, such as those that historically have been in place with Eli Lilly and Co. He brings a strong network of research colleagues from reputable national programs and said it will be important to leverage those contacts in helping the School of Science at IUPUI continue to grow.

“This is all about connectivity and developing an environment where students and faculty can flourish,” Richards said.

Research collaborations with cutting-edge research institutions will lead to more research grant funding for the chemistry department as well as greater educational and career opportunities for current and future chemistry students, he said.

Richards also said he will work to create new graduate degree opportunities in chemistry, including chemical biology. He said such initiatives will be key to keeping talented and productive students and researchers in Indiana.

During his time at Florida, Richards was appointed as a Distinguished Teacher Scholar and elected as a fellow for the American Association for the Advancement of Science. His research has been published in some of the top academic journals in the chemistry field. In addition, he has mentored students who have gone on to study at distinguished research universities throughout the country.

Richards earned his Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Cambridge University in 1984. He started his academic career as a lecturer at Southampton University in England before assuming his position as an assistant professor at the University of Florida in 1990.

The School of Science at IUPUI is committed to excellence in teaching, research and service in the biological, physical, behavioral and mathematical sciences. The school is dedicated to being a leading resource for interdisciplinary research and science education in support of Indiana's effort to expand and diversify its economy. For more information, visit