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  • 03/08/19

    Haynes receives Distinguished McKnight University Professorship

Professor Christy L. Haynes has received the University of Minnesota’s 2019 Distinguished McKnight University Professorship. This professorship recognizes and rewards the University's most outstanding mid-career faculty members. Recipients are honored with the title, Distinguished McKnight University Professor, which they hold for as long as they remain at the University of Minnesota, and receive a grant of $120,000 that can be used to support their scholarly activities.

She is associate department head of the Department of Chemistry and the Elmore H. Northey Professor of Chemistry. She is also associate director of the Center of Sustainable Nanotechnology, and an associate editor of Analytical Chemistry.


Haynes is an internationally recognized leader within the scientific community, and is one of the nation’s most talented analytical chemists. Her training combines laser spectroscopy and nanomaterials characterization with electrochemistry and immunology. She has built a unique research program that addresses questions at the interface of immunology, toxicology, materials science, and chemistry.

Her research group focuses on applications of analytical chemistry in the fields of immunology and toxicology, with much expertise in the area of single cell analysis. Another major focus encompasses studying fundamental properties of cells involved in inflammation. Her group has performed the first ever real-time single blood platelet measurements, examining the chemical messenger molecules that platelets secrete upon stimulation. While most of the Haynes lab research employs electrochemical and spectroscopic techniques, the group is always exploring new and exciting technologies to answer pressing bioanalytical questions.

Currently, a 2018 Guggenheim Fellowship is enabling Haynes to spend the 2018-19 academic year at the Instituto de Tecnología Química, Universitat Politécnica de Valéncia, working with Professor Pablo Botella. Her project, "Characterization of the Molecular Corona acquired by Technologically Relevant Engineered Nanoparticles in Environmental Matrices," builds on another of her major research interests—nanotoxicology, particularly investigating the biological and ecological impacts of engineered nanomaterials. Her main goal is to adapt analytical methods developed by Professor Botella to characterize novel, technologically relevant nanomaterials in an environmental matrix. For Haynes, as part of the Center for Sustainable Nanotechnology, it is critical to consider the sustainability of engineered nanoparticles from two perspectives: the protective perspective where the goal is to avoid unintended negative environmental impacts from any of the variety of nanoparticle-containing products; and the proactive perspective where engineered nanoparticles are exploited to achieve sustainability goals.

Passion for diversity

In addition to her outstanding research, Haynes is known for her passion and commitment to building a diverse scientific community, which includes being a mentor to the next generation of scientists. Her research group currently includes 12 graduate students and 7 undergraduate students. She is a champion for diversity in Science Technology Engineering & Math (STEM) fields and is committed to outreach with and into the community, including working with graduate students to engage young people in science demonstrations and experiments at a local community center. Many of the activities designed for these 6- to 16-year-olds have been developed into manuscripts and published in chemical education journals. In addition, Haynes is one of the lead presenters for the department’s Energy and U program. Energy and U brings more than 10,000 3rd grade through 6th grade students to campus each year, with many of those students coming from schools with high percentages of students living in poverty and from underrepresented groups in the sciences.

Haynes has a deep commitment to science communication and works to foster dialogue between scientists and the public. She uses her excellent science communication skills in support of the University of Minnesota, giving scientific talks for broad audiences. She has also appeared several times on local television and radio news programs, promoting her own group’s research and the department-at-large. 

About Professor Haynes

Among her many honors, Haynes has been recognized as an Alfred P. Sloan Fellow, a Searle Scholar, a Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar, a National Institutes of Health "New Innovator," a Guggenheim Fellow, Craver Award recipient from the Coblentz Society, and Theophilus Redwood Award recipient from the Royal Society of Chemistry, and finalist for the Blavatnik National Award for Young Scientists. In addition to recognition for her research contributions, which includes more than 170 peer-review publications, she has been recognized by the University of Minnesota as an Outstanding Post-doctoral Mentor and the Sara Evans Faculty Woman Scholar/Leader Award. 

Professor Haynes completed her undergraduate work at Macalester College in 1998 and earned a doctorate in chemistry at Northwestern University in 2003, under the direction of Richard P. Van Duyne. Before joining the faculty at the University of Minnesota in 2005, Haynes performed post-doctoral research in the laboratory of R. Mark Wightman at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Tops in professorships

The Department of Chemistry now holds 14 Distinguished McKnight University Professorships—more than any other department at the University of Minnesota. Current faculty members who have also received this high distinction include George Barany, Christopher Cramer, Mark Distefano, Laura Gagliardi, Timothy Lodge, Marc Hillmyer, Theresa Reineke, J. Ilja Siepmann, and Andreas Stein.