Colorado State University Chemistry Professor Honored with Prestigious Scholarship Impact Award

Note to Reporters: A photo of Professor Ellen Fisher is available with the news release at or

Ellen Fisher, renowned Colorado State University professor and chair of the Department of Chemistry, has been recognized with the university’s Scholarship Impact Award, one of the highest annual honors given by the university.

Known for her research on altering surface properties to make existing materials more efficient, reliable, and useful in a broad array of applications, Fisher was honored by Colorado State’s Office of the Vice President for Research at the Celebrate Colorado State reception and awards ceremony today.

The award recognizes outstanding faculty whose scholarship has had a major impact nationally and/or internationally. The award includes a plaque of recognition and $10,000 in funding to support Fisher’s research.

Fisher is an analytical, materials and physical chemist whose work focuses on understanding the fundamental chemical processes that take place during plasma processing and chemical vapor deposition. She also works to improve solar cell efficiency, develop composite nanomaterials and explore environmental applications for plasma chemistry.

The Fisher group has been a world leader in contributing new understanding of chemical mechanisms for scientific and industrial plasma systems, which are close relatives to the processes that occur on the surface of the sun and in fluorescent light bulbs. Their work has been instrumental in making direct correlations between gas-phase plasma species and resulting materials chemistry – essentially connecting the fundamental science “dots” with the desired real-world applications.

“Dr. Fisher has clearly excelled in all areas that characterize the Scholarship Impact Award and is well deserving of this recognition,” said Bill Farland, vice president for Research at Colorado State. “She serves as a role model for faculty and students alike as to how research and other scholarly activities can contribute to CSU and to society.”

In 1993, Fisher joined the Colorado State chemistry department where she has been involved in a variety of activities including the National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates program. She co-founded and served as the director for the Women in Natural Sciences group. Fisher is a fellow of the American Vacuum Society, a member of the American Chemical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Materials Research Society. She also serves as an associate editor for the American Chemical Society journal ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces, as well as on several other scientific journal editorial boards.

Fisher was named a Professor Laureate in the College of Natural Sciences at CSU in 2009. In July 2009, she accepted the chair position in the department after serving for three years as associate chair.

Fisher’s research has significantly influenced the microelectronics community. Other areas where Fisher’s wide-ranging scholarship has had a lasting impact include improved porous polymers for use in desalination and filtration applications; creation of novel thin-film and nanostructured materials for use as protective coatings, solar cells, drug-delivery systems, and biocompatible materials; and innovative “green” chemistries that seek to reduce greenhouse gases in engine exhaust and organic contaminants in water.

Fisher received her doctoral degree from the University of Utah in 1991 and her bachelor’s degree from Texas Lutheran University in 1986. She also performed post-doctoral work from 1991-1993 at the Sandia National Laboratories.

Fisher’s work has resulted in five patents, more than 120 peer-reviewed journal articles and 80 invited talks. For more information on Fisher’s research work at CSU, visit