Dr. Walter: Recipient of the 2022 CLAS Teaching & Research Integration

Dr. Walter: Recipient of the 2022 CLAS Teaching & Research Integration

Department of Chemistry

Michael Walter was the recipient of the 2022 CLAS Teaching & Research Integration award

Michael Walter, Chemistry

Michael Walter joined the faculty at UNC Charlotte in 2011. Since then, he has secured over $2.5 million in external grant funding and published two dozen papers. He is the inventor of co-inventor for three patents, one of the patents is licensed to a local company. 

His research program, and his real-world teaching illustrations, are built around the study of various materials that use light interactions for energy. Students learn how powerful organic chemistry photochemical tools can be used to address scientific challenges. 

Undergraduate students are attracted to Walter’s research laboratory as early as their sophomore year as a result of their experiences in his classes. He has mentored 53 students from a variety of majors, including chemistry, biology, physics, public health, and mathematics.

His interactions with undergraduate students have resulted in over 50 research talks and posters with several invited talks, all presented by the students.

He developed an “e-molecules” activity where students research the structure of widely used organic molecules that might be used in pharmaceuticals or other materials. The course also includes a hands-on photochemistry activity, called  “Juice-from-Juice” where students build blackberry juice, dye-sensitized solar cells. The activity is a powerful example of how an organic molecule extracted from blackberry juice can be used to harness sunlight and convert it to usable electricity and power.

A new activity in his classes looks at the connections among the luminescent materials encountered in daily lives, from organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) in cell phone screens to the bioluminescence from fireflies seen on a summer night.

He has also worked with undergraduate students from the College of Arts + Architecture on an award-winning collaborative solar energy project.