Research and regional advancement are key elements of UMSL’s mission. 

The Office of Research and Economic & Community Development provides leadership and support in the design, execution and operation of programs in sponsored research, technology commercialization and regional engagement and development at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. We promote and support:

  • UMSL’s world-class investigators as they build strong research programs, seek funding, and share results via publication and commercialization for public benefit; 

  • a campus culture of responsibility, ethics, compliance, innovation and entrepreneurship in research activities; and

  • the engagement and application of UMSL’s economic and human capital to positively impact the local and regional community and drive economic opportunity.

As an integral part of its mission, the office oversees a select group of interdisciplinary research centers on campus to leverage university resources for the benefit of students, faculty and the community at large.

Major operating units include Research Development; Sponsored Projects Administration; Intellectual Property (IP) Management & Commercialization; Research Compliance (including Conflict of Interest, the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee and the Institutional Review Board); Economic & Community Development; the Center for Neurodynamics; the Community Innovation & Action Center (CIAC); and the Missouri Institute of Mental Health (MIMH).


Chris Spilling
Professor of Chemistry
Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic & Community Development
(314) 516-5899

For scheduling and other assistance, contact Carolyn Young, Executive Assistant:
(314) 516-5899

Biographical Summary

Christopher D. Spilling is Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic & Community Development and Professor of Chemistry at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Dr. Spilling received his B.Sc. (Hons.) and Ph.D. degrees from Loughborough University (England). He was a Postdoctoral Fellow at Northwestern University before joining the UMSL faculty in 1989. He was promoted to associate professor in 1995 and professor in 2001. He served as Chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry from 2004 to 2015 and Chair of the Faculty Senate and University Assembly from 2012 to 2014. During his 30 years at UMSL, Prof. Spilling returned briefly to the UK for a one-year sabbatical leave at Cambridge University (1996) working in association with Prof. S.V. Ley. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (FRSC) and a member of both the American Chemical Society and the National Academy of Inventors. He has published over 90 peer-reviewed research papers and is a named inventor on 10 issued patents and published patent applications. He was recipient of the 2009 St. Louis award for Chemistry (ACS), the 2009 UM President’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award, and the 2015 Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Service. Prof. Spilling maintains an active research program. His current research involves the design of catalysts for asymmetric phosphonylation, chemistry of hydroxy phosphonates, synthesis of natural products and enzyme inhibitors with applications in the treatment of tuberculosis, sepsis and malaria. He serves on the board of directors for the Center for Research, Technology and Entrepreneurial Expertise (Cortex) and the Center for Emerging Technologies (CET).

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Research & Commercialization Newsletter


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Each year, the University of Missouri-St. Louis Office of Research and Community & Economic Development honors outstanding faculty in the areas of research, invention, and commercialization.    

Previous Winners

Senior Faculty Investigator of the Year Award Winners

  • 2022: Jerry Dunn, clinical professor and executive director of the Children’s Advocacy Services of Greater St. Louis
  • 2021: Jerome Morris, E. Desmond Lee Endowed Professor of Urban Education, Department of Educator Preparation & Leadership
  • 2020: Brendolyn Bailey-Burch, senior research associate, MIMH
  • 2019: Beth Huebner, professor, Department of Criminology & Criminal Justice
  • 2018: David Tate, associate research professor, MIMH
  • 2017: Alexei Demchenko, Curators’ Professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
  • 2015: Sharon Johnson, professor, Social Work
  • 2014: Robert Paul, professor, Department of Psychology
  • 2013: Matthew Hile, research associate professor, Missouri Institute of Mental Health

Junior Faculty Investigator of the Year Award Winners

  • 2022: Lon Chubiz, associate professor, Department of Biology
  • 2021: Michael Gearhart, assistant professor, School of Social Work
  • 2020: Sharlee Climer, assistant professor, Department of Mathematics & Computer Science
  • 2019: Billy Dunaway, assistant professor, Department of Philosophy
  • 2018: Jianli Pan, assistant professor, Department of Mathematics and Computer Science
  • 2017: James Shuls, assistant professor, Department of Educator Preparation, Innovation and Research
  • 2014: Mindy Steiniger, assistant professor, Department of Biology
  • 2013: April Regester, assistant professor, College of Education

Co-Investigators of the Year Award Winners

  • 2022:
    • Aimee Dunlap, associate professor, Department of Biology; and Nathan Muchhala, associate professor, Department of Biology
  • 2021:
    • Shea Kerkhoff, assistant professor, College of Education
    • Katherine O'Daniels, assistant teaching professor, Department of Educator Preparation & Leadership
    • Nancy Singer, associate dean and associate professor,Department of Educator Preparation & Leadership
  •  2020:
    • Keith Stine, Professor and Chair, Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry
    • Alexei Demchenko, Curators’ Distinguished Professor, Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry
  • 2019 (new award in 2019):
    • Melinda Bier, Senior Research Scientist, Center for Character & Citizenship Education
    • Marvin Berkowitz, Sanford N. McDonnell Endowed Professor for Character Education, Department of Education Preparation & Leadership

Faculty Inventor/Innovator of the Year Award

  • 2022: Felia Davenport, associate professor, Department of Communication and Media; and Uma Segal, Curators’ Distinguished Professor, School of Social Work
  • 2021: Jianli Pan, Associate Professor, Department of Computer Science
  • 2020: Carl Bassi, Curators’ Distinguished Teaching Professor, College of Optometry
  • 2018: George Gokel, Distinguished Professor of Science, Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry
  • 2017: Zhi Xu, Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
  • 2015: Haitao Li, Associate Professor, College of Business Administration
  • 2014: Janet Braddock-Wilking, Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
  • 2013: Xuemin "Sam" Wang, E. Desmond Lee Endowed Professor of Plant Science, Department of Biology

Student Inventor/Innovator of the Year Award Winners

  • 2013: Mohit Patel  


Eligibility and Selection Criteria 

Selection of the "Senior Faculty Investigator of the Year" and the "Junior Faculty Investigator of the Year" awards winners is based on criteria that can include, but are not limited to, the following: amount of grant funding during the previous calendar year, the largest increase in funding during the previous calendar year, the potential significance of the nominee’s research in their discipline, and novelty of the research. Eligible candidates include current UMSL faculty members, either tenure-track or non-tenure-track, who have been PI on an internal or external grant awarded in the previous calendar year.

Criteria for the "Co-Investigators of the Year" award are the same as the individual award criteria above, but eligible candidates are teams of investigators (2+ investigators) who have served as co-investigators on at least one funded research project.

Selection of the "Innovator of the Year" award winner is based on criteria that can include, but are not limited to, the following: having disclosed to the University a discovery/invention that has contributed (or has the potential to contribute) significantly to the public good, economy, research funding to UMSL, regional entrepreneurship, and advancement of science and useful arts. Eligible candidates include faculty and staff with an active invention disclosure on file with UMSL during the previous calendar year.

Current student inventors are eligible for the "Student Innovator of the Year" based on the same criteria for the faculty innovator award.


Each winner receives $500 dollars and is recognized at the annual UMSL Research & Innovation reception event.


Note: Not every award is given each year. No awards were given in 2016 as no recognition event could be held due to budget restrictions.