Ryan C. Fortenberry, PhD, Professor of Chemistry

Ryan Fortenberry
Ryan Fortenberry. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

Title: Associate Professor, Chemistry and Graduate Program Coordinator
Company: Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Mississippi
Location: Oxford, Mississippi, United States

Ryan C. Fortenberry, PhD, Professor of Chemistry, has been recognized by Marquis Who’s Who Top Educators for dedication, achievements, and leadership in science education.

With a lifelong passion for science and an innate curiosity to find answers, Dr. Fortenberry has dedicated his career to researching and teaching in the field of theoretical astrochemistry. He earned a Bachelor of Science in mathematics in 2006 and a Master of Science in communication in 2007 from Mississippi College, graduating summa cum laude, and was awarded his Doctor of Philosophy in theoretical chemistry by the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in 2012. Upon graduation, he became a postdoctoral fellow at the NASA Ames Research Center and began his professional career in science education as an assistant professor of physical chemistry at Georgia Southern University in 2013. From 2012 to 2020, he concurrently excelled as an adjunct professor of communication at Mississippi College.

At the intersection of astrophysics, chemistry, computer science and mathematics, Dr. Fortenberry uses computer models based on quantum mechanics to simulate the way that light interacts with molecules in various astronomical environments in an effort to detect new and novel molecular species. Dr. Fortenberry is the chair of the astrochemistry subdivision of the American Chemical Society and has maintained professional affiliations with organizations such as the Southeastern Theoretical Chemistry Association, the Mississippi Communication Association, the American Geophysical Union, the National Communication Association and the Mathematics Association of America. He is the author of “The First Molecule in the Universe,” published by Scientific American, and his work has been recognized with honors including the Ole Miss SMACS Faculty Award, an Outstanding Recent Alumni Award and a Graduate Research Award from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University College of Science, the GSU College of Science and Mathematics Award for Excellence in Research, and the WATOC 2011 Poster Prize. Looking toward the future, he aims to continue to make scientific discoveries that positively impact the world while producing scientific insight with the ability to alter the course of astrochemistry.


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