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Faculty Profile: Chemistry professor keeps the beat for UDM

Associate Professor of Chemistry/Biochemistry Matthew Mio 97, checks on the lab project of Biochemistry student Adrienne Baran.

UDM’s 1997 class valedictorian Matthew Mio continues to make his mark at the University, only now as a faculty member. As assistant professor of Chemistry/Biochemistry, Mio interacts with students in his classes and serves as faculty advisor to the Chemistry Club (of which he once was president). In addition, he recently contributed lyrics and music for UDM’s new Alma Mater that made its debut at the inauguration of President Gerard L. Stockhausen, S.J., on Oct. 1. As a student, Mio also co-wrote the UDM pep song, “The Titan Way,” now played at all Titan basketball games.

“UDM gave me a lot when I was a student here,” says Mio. “Now it’s my job to give something back.”

Whether through organic chemistry or music/poetry, Mio says he is inspired by UDM. “Education is the main part of the college experience, but not the only one. My job is to serve. If a student either remembers a nucleophilic substitution reaction or recalls the fight song/alma mater with wistfulness, I’ve accomplished my goal.”

To attract more students to the sciences, Mio created a new course this fall called, CSI: Detroit–Forensic Chemistry (CHM 103), taking advantage of the high interest in forensic scientists portrayed on the popular “CSI” TV programs. In the class, 40 students learn how to apply general chemical concepts in forensic analysis. Students exercise their logic, pay attention to detail and use memorization and critical thinking in solving forensic chemical problems.

"The course filled up faster than I had imagined," says Mio. "The TV series opened many people's eyes to the fact that science and chemistry are a major part of our everyday lives. Science is at the core of our justice system and students will see this first hand and understand by researching information through a series of unique cases.”

As a UDM student in 1996, Mio won the Undergraduate Analytical Chemistry Award, and in 1997, the Chemistry/Biochemistry Student Service Award and the American Chemical Society Detroit Section’s Outstanding Chemist Award. He also was UDM College of Engineering & Science’s Science Student of the Year in 1997.

Following his graduation in 1997 with a degree in Chemistry, he continued his education, earning a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2001. He served as the Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Chemistry at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, before becoming a visiting assistant professor in UDM’s Chemistry/Biochemistry Department in 2002, and joining the UDM faculty in 2003.

His research interests include shape-persistent oligomers and macromolecules and supramolecular organization and assembly. He has authored numerous scientific and pedagogical presentations and publications.

He recently was the subject of a Detroit Free Press article on one of his other interests — the celebration of Halloween.