Prof. James T. Spencer Bio

Dr. James Spencer joined the faculty at Syracuse University in 1986 after completing a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Virginia, a Ph.D. in organometallic chemistry from Iowa State University, and his undergraduate studies at S.U.N.Y. College at Potsdam.  Prof. Spencer has recently received several honors for his research and teaching work including the “Distinguished Achievements in Boron Science” Award from the BUSA International Conference.  He is the Laura J. and L. Douglas Meredith Professor in the College of Arts and Sciences. In 2013, he received the Chancellor’s Citation for Excellence, the highest award recognition for SU faculty and staff in recognition of outstanding achievement in teaching, scholarship and creative work. He also received the Excellence in Teaching Award from University College in 2009. He has been active in organizing a variety of scientific meetings for both the American Chemical Society and the BUSA International Conference, in addition to serving as co-chair for the 10th and 11th Foresight Conferences on Molecular Nanotechnology. Dr. Spencer has presented numerous invited lectures including at the IMEBORON X International Conference, the Gordon Research Conference in Inorganic Chemistry, and the International Symposium on Solid State Imaging and CVD. He has also served as a consultant for the Lockheed Martin Corporation, General Electric Corporation, the Merix Corporation, and International Business Machines, among others. At Syracuse University, Dr. Spencer has chaired the Faculty Council, the Senate Research Committee, and the College’s Promotion and Tenure Committee.

Dr. Spencer is the author of ~90 scientific papers and has presented over 200 lectures at regional, national and international venues.  Spencer’s research involves the study of solid-state, main group and organometallic chemistry and includes projects in solid state chemistry on boron-containing and nanostructural materials.  Current projects are focused upon the development of new photovoltaic devices and a new generation of sensors using chemically functionalized piezoelectric solid state devices.  These new materials will provide rapid, highly sensitive, exceptionally selective, and readily adaptable new sensors for key analytes with applications to medicine, forensic science and national security.  Collaborations in this work include Upstate Medical Center, Iowa State University Veterinary Medicine, MolecuSense Inc. and Caladan Technologies.

Dr. Spencer founded the University’s Forensic and National Security Sciences Institute (FNSSI) where he currently serves as its Founding Executive Director. The Institute brings together work from many disciplines and provides a program of excellence, uniquely positioned to make significant contributions to combat crime and promote national security through research, teaching, and professional outreach: the nation’s first program that comprehensively focuses upon the breadth and depth scholarship in forensic and national security sciences and is establishing groundbreaking research based upon rigorous scientific investigation and technical ability. He has completed work on a new introductory textbook in Forensic Science (2021).  Dr. Spencer has also served as the Associate Dean for Science, Mathematics and Research in Syracuse University’s College of Arts and Sciences (2009-2014), founder and first Director of the NSF REU Program (Research Experience for Undergraduates) at SU, and Director of the University’s Soling Program.

In addition to his scientific pursuits, Spencer also directs the national award-winning Syracuse University Brass Ensemble, having begun his studies at SUNY Potsdam in brass music. The Ensemble is composed of over thirty-five professional-level musicians from Syracuse University, Upstate Medical University, and surrounding Upstate New York communities. The Ensemble, the Ensemble-in-Residence in the College of Arts and Sciences and based in Hendricks Chapel, is a year round organization which presents some twenty performances each year.  These include a variety of recitals on the Syracuse University Campus and performances in and around the northeast and the Ensemble has won a number of prestigious national awards for their performances.