Biographical Sketch for Dr. John A. Myers, Professor of Chemistry, NCCU
Dr. John A. Myers earned his bachelor's degrees in chemistry and mathematics at Carson-Newman College in Tennessee in 1965. He was an NSF undergraduate research participant working on a nuclear chemistry project at the University of Arkansas during the summer of 1964, and he spent a summer of research on quinone methide chemistry at Esso Research & Engineering in Baytown, Texas. He received an NSF predoctoral traineeship to the University of Florida and earned his Ph.D. degree in 1970 in organic chemistry studying carbene-to-carbene rearrangements with Dr. William M. Jones. He spent a year of postdoctoral study with Dr. Harold Hart at Michigan State University before joining the Faculty of North Carolina Central University as Associate Professor of Chemistry in 1971. In 1972, under the chairmanship of Dr. Ezra L.Totton, Dr. Myers and his colleagues earned certification of the bachelor's degree program by the American Chemical Society, and that accreditation has continued for 38 years. Dr. Myers received funding of graduate and undergraduate research from the Minority Biomedical Research Support (MBRS) Program for a period of 21 years, from 1972 to 1993. He earned tenure in 1975 and was promoted to Full Professor in 1980. He served as Chair of the Department of Chemistry from 1991 to 1997 and as Interim Co-Chair for Student Services from 2009 to 2010. In 1985, Dr. Myers' research resulted in a U.S. patent on 2H-isoindole-4,7-diones and their use as radiosensitizers, the first patent issued to North Carolina Central University.
Dr. Myers' passion has been mentoring undergraduate and graduate research students in the syntheses of nitrogen heterocyclic compounds with potential phamacological activity, including isoindolequinones as radiation sensitizers and pyrrolizine diesters as precursors to potential anti-leukemic agents. He has had the privilege to direct thesis research of over twenty students who have earned M.S. degrees in Chemistry, and he is proud that students working with him have earned research internships from Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), United Negro College Fund - Merck (UNCF-Merck), Graduate Education for Minorities (GEM), and the ACS Scholars Fund. His published journal articles have included NCCU students as co-authors. He developed research collaborations with scientists at the Catholic University of Puerto Rico and RTI International. As Coordinator of a grant from RTI, Dr. Myers worked with the discoverers of camptothecin and taxol, two potent anti-cancer drugs, Dr. Monroe Wall and Dr. Mansukh Wani over a period of twelve years to place nineteen NCCU students in plant and marine materials research seeking new anti-cancer agents at the Natural Products Laboratory of RTI. Over thirty of his research students have earned graduate and professional degrees, including Ph.D., Dr. rer. Nat., Pharm.D., M.D., D.D.S., J.D., M.A.T., P.A., Doctor of Podiatry, and M.Chem.Ed. degrees. He has served on the Advisory Board for the University Undergraduate Research Program and as Editor for the last four volumes of its University Undergraduate Research Journal. He was Co-organizer for the Sixth National Conference of the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) held at NCCU in 1996, and he served for many years on the Executive Committee of the North Carolina Consortium for Undergraduate Research. For the past two years, Dr. Myers helped edit the book of abstracts for the Annual Student Research Symposia of the College of Science and Technology in April.
As faculty advisor for the NCCU Student Member (formerly Student Affiliate) Chapter of the American Chemical Society (ACS), Dr. Myers has observed a dedicated, hardworking handful of students earn an Honorable Mention Award and plaque from ACS at its national meeting in 2010 with activities that included mentoring teams of students from the Clements Early College High School to compete in the North Carolina Regional Science Bowl. As a teacher in the NCCU Summer Ventures in Science and Mathematics (SVSM) Program for over 15 years, he was prepared to accept the position of Director in 2010. Through his service as Chair of the North Carolina Section of ACS in 2003, he had the opportunity to bring two Presidents of ACS to speak on the campus of NCCU and the privilege of moderating a symposium in honor of Drs. Wall and Wani during the dedication of the Natural Products Laboratory at RTI as an ACS National Historic Chemistry Landmark.
Dr. Myers received outstanding teacher awards from the College of Arts and Sciences, and the College of Science and Technology in 2006 and 2007, respectively. He has sought to challenge, encourage, and mentor his students in the tradition of Dr. Ezra L. Totton, who taught "mastery" of chemistry, and in the manner anticipated by former Chancellor Albert N. Whiting for all NCCU faculty as a "vigor of expectation".