Dr. Lawson's personal research interests are In nonlinear optics, directed toward the development and characterization of nonlinear optical (NLO) materials for optical switching and power limiting applications using wavelength tunable Z-scan, degenerate four wave mixing (DFWM), power limiting spectroscopy, and flash photolysis. The focus of this work is to study the relationship between excited state absorption, linear absorption and molecular structure in metal organics using computational modeling supported by a full suite of experimental measurements. His group has demonstrated that unsymmetrical phosphine-substituted bithiophenes exhibit the highest solubility and best blue sensor protection of any material that has been studied in the literature to date. As part of this research, his group has recently developed methods for functionalizing unsymmetrical phosphine-substituted bithiophenes, that will allow it to be incorporated into polymer films and attached to nanoparticles.
Dr. Christopher Lawson was elected to Executive Director of Alabama EPSCoR (www.alepscor.org) in 2010. The ALEPSCoR Program (see: http://alepscor.org) is dedicated to the advancement of economic development via scientific and engineering research through a collaborative effort among the 8 Alabama Ph.D. granting institutions, the Alabama Department of Commerce (DoC) and ACHE. Overall, ALEPSCoR has been awarded 265 federal EPSCoR grants totaling $167M from 2009-2019, with $14.7M of federal EPSCoR grant funding in FY 2019 alone. Current grants include a five year $20M grant from NSF helping to establish Alabama as the national leader in low temperature plasma science with important applications in medicine and medical implants, food safety, space science and water purification. Other recent federal EPSCoR awards to Alabama researchers are helping neuroscientists to help treat diseases of the brain like Parkinson’s, radiation scientists to develop new radioisotopes to treat cancer and water scientists to maximize our water resources. Overall, these federal EPSCoR grants have led to new scientific discoveries, capabilities, and high-tech infrastructure in Alabama leading to important sustainable job growth.
The ALEPSCoR state funded (through ACHE) Graduate Research Scholars Program (GRSP), designed to increase the pool of highly trained graduates available to Alabama industries, provides funding for graduate students performing high-tech federal EPSCoR Research, with funding leading to 204 Ph.D. and 67 MS degrees to date.
In 2016, ALEPSCoR developed the first Science and Technology (S&T) Plan / Roadmap formally adopted by the State of Alabama, and later updates of this document were incorporated in the Alabama DoC Economic Development Plan, Accelerate Alabama 2.0. Working with Secretary Canfield in the Alabama DoC, these Roadmap research capabilities are incorporated into a web searchable data base (click on link on the Business Development Page of www.madeinalabama.com or see: https://alepscor.org/research-capabilities/), which identifies where specific types of high tech research, along with a highly trained workforce, is available to support current and emerging business enterprises across the state. Information on this new ALEPSCoR economic development tool was shared to state-wide economic developers at the Winter 2020 meeting of the Economic Development Association of Alabama when ALEPSCoR Executive Director (and UAB Physics Prof.) Dr. Chris Lawson organized and led a Panel Discussion on “University Research as a Driver and Engine for Economic Growth”.
Finally, since 2016 Dr. Lawson has served as the Chair of the Coalition of EPSCoR/IDEA States, which assumes a leadership role in coordinating national EPSCoR activities. He testified before the U.S. House Appropriations Committee on behalf of the EPSCoR Coalition in 2012 and 2013 and provided written expert witness testimony to the “Driving Innovation Through Federal Investments” full U.S. Senate Hearings in April 2014 and the House Appropriations Committee in 2019.