• Dr. Gustavo Moura-Letts with his 2017-18 lab students.


Professor Gustavo-Moura Letts Receives NSF CAREER Award

Dr. Gustavo Moura-Letts Research Website

The National Science Foundation (NSF) recently presented Rowan University chemistry professor Gustavo Moura-Letts, Ph.D. with a CAREER: The Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program award. Moura-Letts is the first faculty member in the College of Science & Mathematics to earn the award. Dr. Tabbetha Dobbins arrived at Rowan with a CAREER already on her resume.

Dr. Ali Houshmand, president of Rowan, stated, “This validates Rowan’s ongoing investment in world-class research and highlights the skills and potential of the outstanding faculty we continue to draw to the University.”

The NSF awarded Moura-Letts, 40, an associate professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, an anticipated $525,000 for his project "CAREER: Metallooxaziridines for the Synthesis of Nitrogen-Containing Three-Membered Heterocycles,” to be used between May 2018 and April 2023. Moura-Letts, is an organic chemist who is developing new chemical reactions for the creation of metal complexes to selectively deliver nitrogen atoms across other molecules, thus enabling the creation of better processes to make therapeutic drugs.

The goal of his research is to exploit the unique chemical properties of these complexes for the invention of novel chemical reactions. He has worked with more than 35 Rowan students during the last three years on this initiative. He also focuses on developing mechanisms to engage undergraduates, high school students and returning veterans in chemical research in order to stimulate their interest in scientific careers.

This is quite an honor for a professor that is less than 10 years out of graduate school. CAREER awards are as prestigious as they come for young faculty, going to those the NSF determines “have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization.”

Moura-Letts left his native Peru for graduate school. “I wanted to do state-of-the-art science,” he said.

He came to Rowan for much the same reason. “I wanted to lead undergraduate research. I truly believe undergraduate research can compete at the highest levels,” Moura-Letts said. “I felt like Rowan was the only institution I applied to that truly was shifting, that was changing, that was growing. I felt like Rowan would allow me to grow with it. Rowan gives me the opportunity to do what I want to do, what makes me happy, what makes me excited.  And it gives me the opportunity to grow at my own pace.”

Moura-Letts earned his B.S. in chemistry from Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, Peru; M.S. in chemistry from the University of Massachusetts; and Ph. D. in chemistry from the University of Pittsburgh. Prior to joining the Rowan faculty, he was a postdoctoral fellow in the Molecular Pharmacology and Chemistry Program at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York City, and a postdoctoral associate in the Department of Chemistry at Ohio State University.

A member of the American Chemical Society, Moura-Letts holds a patent and has published and presented extensively. Numerous organizations have presented him with awards for his work. (See more at 

Moura-Letts, who now lives in Cherry Hill with his wife and son, is excited about the CAREER award not just for himself but also for the University.

“This means that the National Science Foundation recognizes the kind of science that we are producing at Rowan. I think that this award not only represents my efforts but also reflects the environment I am in,” he said. “Rowan is growing, I am growing with Rowan in building a state-of-the-art research university.”