Beckford has right chemistry for national research honor

Dr. Floyd A. Beckford has been teaching in the chemistry department at the University of Virginia’s College at Wise for six years now.

His course load includes general chemistry, environmental chemistry and introduction to medicinal chemistry. Along with these courses, he occasionally teaches a topics class.

“My primary area of focus now is inorganic medicinal chemistry,” Beckford said of his areas of research. “We try to look at inorganic compounds that have potential medicinal properties. Most often we look for antibacterial properties and in addition we have external collaborators and we look for anticancer activity that way.”

This summer he and Professor Madalynn Shell plan to start looking for anticancer activity in-house in the UVa-Wise lab. Before now, Dr. Beckford usually conducted his research at the University of Rhode Island. The research will be easier to conduct once the process is on our own campus at UVa-Wise.

Beckford’s summer research plans will end in August, but for good reason. The professor has recently been selected for the Fulbright Scholars Program award with the University of Turku in Finland.

This award will allow Beckford to conduct research at the university, which is located in the southwestern part of Finland. His stay will last for four and a half months beginning in August of this year.

“The Fulbright program is run by the State Department,” Beckford said. “It is a program that started back in the 40’s by a senator from Arkansas.”

The program was started in hopes of the United States engaging with the world in different ways. It focuses on scientific, cultural and political aspects to get the nation involved in these different areas.

“It is a very extensive program, it is all over the place,” said Beckford. “It is one of the more prestigious programs coming out of this place.”

While at the University of Turku, Beckford will be working on some of the same areas he will be looking at this summer on the UVa-Wise campus.Floyd Beckford DSC_0122

Beckford said, “We will be looking at anticancer compounds potentially. It will be a little bit different than those that I do here.”

He will be working with others in Finland who have been working on the same area of research for some time now. He hopes what he learns from others he can bring back here.

“Part of the program is cultural,” Beckford said of the Fulbright program. “They encourage people to look around the country and get engaged with the people, outside the normal parameter of the project. I guess they don’t want you to just go there and teach and do research. They want you to engage and get involved with everything.”

Along with his research at the University of Turku, Dr. Beckford will also be teaching a chemistry course. The course will either be the medicinal chemistry class he is teaching here or a new class in bioinorganic chemistry.

Dr. Beckford said, “They are kind of excited with respect to either of those classes. They think that the material that I have in those classes would be of interest to their students.”

Dr. Beckford will return to UVa-Wise before the start of the Spring 2019 semester.

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