The Lester Andrews Graduate Research Symposium (LAGRS) is an annual research symposium held at Mississippi State University. In 2011 the Lester Andrews Graduate Research Symposium was established in honor of Dr. W. Lester S. Andrews, PhD (BS 1963 graduate of MSU) for his support of the Chemistry Department and his accomplishments as a Chemist. Dr. Andrews has been a physical chemistry professor in the University of Virginia's College of Arts & Sciences for over 40 years. Andrews is well known for matrix-isolation spectroscopy research, an experimental method of studying the individual molecules of chemical compounds at very low temperatures. He has authored or co-authored more than 800 scientific papers since 1966 and his work has been cited over 18,500 times. Simply put, his work has fundamentally changed the understanding of chemical bonding in many elements. The symposium is scheduled during a three-day period after the end of the spring semester around the third or fourth week of May and is organized by the Chemistry Graduate Student Association (CGSA). The event includes invited oral presentations by chemistry graduate students and invited poster presentations by both graduate and undergraduate students and is attended by undergraduate and graduate students, academic faculty, and industry researchers from all scientific disciplines, backgrounds, and nationalities. Each year, a prestigious researcher is invited to attend the symposium and give a keynote lecture. The speaker is selected via graduate student nominations and a vote held by the CGSA body. For 2021 LAGRS, the keynote lecture will be given by Dr. Craig Hawker, Director of the California NanoSystems Institute, Dow Materials Institute, and the Faculty Director of the Materials Research Lab at the University of California Santa Barbara.
Previous symposium lecturers have included:
• 2020 - Dr. Adriaan Bax (NIH Laboratory of Chemical Physics) was the selected keynote speaker of LAGRS 2020 but the event was canceled due to COVID-19
• 2019 - Dr. Marcetta Y. Darensbourg (Texas A&M)
• 2018 – John F. Hartwig (Berkeley)
• 2017 – Harry Gray (Caltech)
• 2016 – Elton Cairns (Berkeley)
• 2015 – Naomi Halas (Rice)
• 2014 – Guy Bertrand (UC San Diego)
• 2013 – Chen Peng (Cornell)
• 2012 – Eric Jacobsen (Harvard)
• 2011 – Brian M. Stoltz (Caltech)
In 2014 an endowment by Dr. Andrews was established in support of this symposium and through the generosity of Dr. Andrews the endowment allows for the award of more than $2,000 in travel grants to graduate students to attend and present at the symposium. Additionally, cash prizes are awarded for the top three oral presenters and the top three poster presentations totaling well over $1,000. The awards are decided by guest judges consisting of professors from multiple universities whom are invited to judge the presentations. Oral presentations are scored on organization, content, and presentation. Poster presentations are scored on content, presentation, figures, and mechanics. The CGSA and the Department of Chemistry at Mississippi State University are extremely grateful to Prof. Andrews for his promotion and support of higher learning, the sciences, graduate students, and the Department of Chemistry at MSU.