Associate Professor Troy Townsend ’07 Recognized as Maryland Outstanding Young Scientist

Submitted by Gretchen Phillips on May 24, 2022 - 1:51 pm
May 24, 2022
By Gretchen Phillips

Associate Professor of Chemistry Troy Townsend ’07 was named a 2022 Maryland Outstanding Young Scientist by the Maryland Academy of Sciences and the Maryland Science Center. Townsend was honored at a ceremony May 11 at the Maryland Science Center in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.

In his acceptance speech, Townsend spoke of the inspiration and support he receives from his students, his children and his community. “In these people, I have observed three key elements of a good scientist: passion, optimistic curiosity and luck.”

He noted that when thinking broadly about workforce development, economic development and scientific advancement, “it starts with young people, who are optimistic, curious and passionate. When I reflect on my life, as a mentor and one day as an ‘old scientist’, I will measure my value with the impact I’ve had on our future leaders, who value science and reason.”

Founder of St. Mary’s College’s Material Science Program, Townsend pursues the development of low-cost renewable solar energy technology through ink-jet printing of robust inorganic photovoltaics. In his lab at the College, Townsend and his students synthesize materials on the nanoscale to discover new electronic and optical properties. His most recent work involves using nanocrystal inks that can be printed to produce solar modules that are lighter in weight and a fraction of the cost of the traditional silicon-based solar module. 

Through discovery of a novel bathless metal-composite electroplating technique, he is producing glow-in-the-dark hand tools for the Navy with the goal of improving mission readiness. Townsend explained in a video for the science center that in the event a mechanic drops a tool, all flights are grounded until it is found as “foreign objects like these can cause catastrophic mishaps during flight.” Townsend said the discovery of this electroplating technique allows for a much higher incorporation of fluorescent particles in the metal film, which makes the metal glow in the dark. 

According to a release provided by the science center, The Outstanding Young Scientist and Outstanding Young Engineer awards are bestowed on scientists who are 35 years old or younger working in academia and 40 years old or younger working in other sectors. Award recipients are chosen by members of the Maryland Academy of Sciences’ Scientific Advisory Council.

“We believe informal science education forms a foundation for lifelong learning and curiosity,” said Mark J. Potter, president and CEO of the Maryland Science Center. “These honorees show that foundation leads to discovery and achievements that benefit us all.” 

Townsend thanked all those who have supported him and nominated him for the award.“I am proud to represent my home state of Maryland, and be recognized as a scholar and inventor,” said Townsend. 

Jamie Spangler, assistant professor of biomedical engineering and chemical & biomolecular engineering at The Johns Hopkins University was the other 2022 Outstanding Young Scientist honoree.

Visit our website to learn more about the Materials Science Program at St. Mary’s College of Maryland.