UO chemist Christopher Hendon named Cottrell Scholar

First published in Around the O on March 22, 2021.

UO chemist Christopher H. Hendon has been named a Cottrell Scholar by the Research Corporation for Science Advancement, which supports both research and teaching in chemistry, physics and astronomy.

Hendon, who is known widely as Dr. Coffee, was selected for the proposal “Inorganic Defects in Metal-Organic Frameworks.” In his research, he will look at chemical properties of imperfect inorganic materials using high-performance computing.

“Nature isn’t perfect. In every crystal there may be an atom or two out of place, and that mistake may govern the entire property of the material,” said Hendon, an assistant professor and computational chemist in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. “An example is the perfect diamond, which is shiny and clear, but its defects cause them to be colored and less shiny.”

“Since the first class of Cottrell Scholars in 1994, this community has provided leadership and guidance that has made a big impact on science, on students and across academia,” said Silvia Ronco, senior program director at the research corporation, a private foundation that supports catalytic funding for research in the physical sciences at colleges and universities.

Hendon turned to his work in the coffee industry as inspiration for the teaching portion of the Cottrell Scholarship.

“My education proposal came from reflecting on this past year,” he said. “One category of classes that really struggled with the transition to remote learning were those with a laboratory component, where students do hands-on work. I teach general chemistry in cafés every day, so I figured why not develop an entire general chemistry laboratory class on coffee. It is accessible to most people and could be done for around $100 in homemade equipment.”

Hendon will get $100,000 as a Cottrell Scholar. He joins 24 others in the 2021 class and is now among a handful of UO Cottrell Scholars.

“The Cottrell Scholarship is unique,” he said. “Once you become part of the community, you are in it forever.”