F. John Burpo

Colonel Burpo is the Head of the Department of Chemistry and Life Science and teaches courses in biochemistry, bioengineering, biotechnology, biology, and general chemistry. After earning a B.S. in mechanical-aerospace engineering from the United States Military Academy in 1992, he commissioned as a field artillery officer and has Army experience in light infantry, armor, and Stryker units with operational deployments to Rwanda, Bosnia, and Iraq. Upon completion of a Sc.D. in biological engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he conducted a dual post-doctoral fellowship in the Biomolecular Materials Laboratory and an Army War College fellowship in the Security Studies Program, both at MIT.

As the head of the Department of Chemistry and Life Science, he supervises over 40 full-time faculty members and researchers, and 14 administrative and laboratory support staff in an 85,000 ft2 facility with $10 million of capital instrumentation. The department teaches nearly 3,000 students each year and offers three academic majors - ACS accredited Chemistry, ABET accredited Chemical Engineering, and Life Science majors. Courses include four common curriculum core courses: General Chemistry I, Advanced General Chemistry I, General Chemistry II, and Introduction to Biology. His leadership responsibilities also include supervising the Academy Pre-Medical Program; for research, cadet education, and outreach, overseeing the Center for Molecular Science that serves as the department’s focal point for coordinating collaborative research with Department of Defense science and technology agencies and civilian institutions; and supervising the department’s contributions to the Photonics Research Center (PRC) along with the departments of Physics and Nuclear Engineering and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. Primary additional appointments include service on the Academic Board; General Committee; Class Committees; Math, Science and Engineering Committee; the West Point Memorialization, History, and Museum Committee; and Academy Professor search committees.

Colonel Burpo leads the Multi-Functional Materials Laboratory as part of the Center for Molecular Science at West Point. The group consists of four faculty members and over 20 undergraduate researchers. The lab’s focus is to develop electro/photo-mechanical materials that serve as both structural and energy storage materials. These materials are envisioned to provide lightweight systems solutions by simultaneously building and powering devices across multiple length scales.  To achieve this aim, synthesizing 3-dimensional nanowire and nanowire-nanotube composite arrays provides tunable systems that enable the controlled variation of nanowire diameter, element length, and pore size.  In this manner, material properties such as electrical conductivity, electrolyte mass transport, mechanical strength, and redox chemistries are optimized for lightweight catalysis, energy storage, and sensing applications.