MSU’s Todd Mlsna named Chemist of the Year for Mississippi

Contact: Amelia Byars

Studio portrait of Todd Mlsna
Todd Mlsna (Photo by Megan Bean)

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Mississippi State University Professor Todd Mlsna is the 2022 Chemist of the Year for the state of Mississippi, an honor awarded by the American Chemical Society at their recent spring awards banquet in Starkville.

Mlsna, a faculty member in MSU’s Department of Chemistry since 2009, said this award not only honors him, but also the individuals he has taught and worked with for the last 13 years.

“This award really represents a group effort. I think it validates the tireless efforts of my students and colleagues,” Mlsna said.

Dennis W. Smith Jr., professor and head of the chemistry department, said Mlsna’s dedication to research, students and chemistry as a whole qualified him for the award.

“Professor Mlsna brings innovation to every facet of life as a chemist,” Smith said. “From commercializing biosensors to next generation high-value carbon architectures from biowaste to leading summer abroad students on a whirlwind tour of northern Europe’s alternative energy strategy, Todd exemplifies both the scientific depth and the broader impacts expected of Mississippi’s Chemist of the Year.”

Mlsna has garnered more than $19 million in external funding throughout his career, including grants from the National Science Foundation, Office of Naval Research, and the Departments of Energy and Homeland Security, to name a few.

He and his wife Deb Mlsna—an associate professor of chemistry at MSU—direct a 10-week summer NSF-funded research experience for undergraduate students, impacting more than 40 students each year. Theirs was the only REU program offered during the summer of 2020 when COVID protocols shut down programs in other areas.

At MSU, Mlsna led the final commercialization of a mini gas chromatograph and accompanying lab manual used to train approximately 70,000 students per semester worldwide in academic labs. He has been published in the Journal of Chemical Education and also in the Chemical Educator journal. He has published nearly 60 times in the last four years with 35 undergraduate co-authors.

He has received the Department of Chemistry’s Outstanding Faculty Award three times, has been featured on the American Chemical Society’s pressroom page, and received the Most Innovative New Product (MIP) Award for chemical sensors developed for security applications. In 2021, Mlsna received MSU’s Ralph E. Powe Research Excellence Award, the top research award presented annually by the university.

The Belleville, Michigan, native earned his bachelor’s degree from Albion College in Michigan in 1985 and his Ph.D. from the University of Texas, Austin in 1991.

Part of the College of Arts and Sciences, MSU’s Department of Chemistry was founded in 1878 and is the oldest ACS accredited program in the state. The department serves the basic science and higher-level chemistry curricula needs of nearly every major on campus. For more information, visit

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