Debbie C. Crans named University Distinguished Professor

Debbie Crans portrait

Debbie C. Crans has dedicated her life’s work to the pursuit of scientific knowledge and the training of future scientists. Her research focuses on biological chemistry, specifically on biological and biomedical problems including projects focused on cancer, diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases, and viral, bacterial, and parasitic diseases.   

Crans is well known for her work and was recently named a Colorado State University Distinguished Professor, which is the highest academic recognition awarded by the University to honor faculty who have shown outstanding scholarship and achievement.   

“Receiving this recognition is so special and particularly in a field like mine where often there are very few women,” says Crans. “I have long been recognized worldwide for my research and have contributed to developing the field of metals in medicine and young scientists in chemistry; however, being honored on the home front at CSU with the University Distinguished Professor award is a dream come true.”  

Crans’s list of honors is long and includes being named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2014; receiving the College of Natural Sciences Professor Laureate award in 2015 and the Arthur P. Cope Scholar Award from the American Chemical Society in 2015; being named a fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry in 2016; and receiving the American Chemical Society Award for Distinguished Service in the Advancement of Inorganic Chemistry in 2019 – she is only the third woman to receive this honor in its 53-year history. 

“Professor Crans has built a distinguished career in bioinorganic coordination chemistry research, elucidating the biological impacts of vanadium complexes, toward anti-diabetic medications, and, more recently, anti-cancer properties,” said Matthew Shores, chair of the Department of Chemistry. “I wish to highlight Dr. Crans’s longstanding commitment to supporting undergraduate research opportunities, giving many new students a first chance in her labs.”  

Moving into the future, Crans has big plans for her research.  

“My dream is that our studies will make a difference and ultimately will help us understand and cure diseases,” she said.  

In addition to her research, Crans loves to teach students. Being a first-generation college student who grew up in Denmark and moved to Colorado 35 years ago, Crans knows the importance of fostering curiosity and inquisitiveness in the next generation of scientists.   

“I feel that scientists are today’s explorers because we have been everywhere on earth – but in science, we are still exploring new territories.” 

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