Scott T. Phillips

Scott T. Phillips

Main Content

  • Associate Professor of Chemistry
  • Stephen and Patricia Benkovic Early Career Professorship
436 Chemistry Building
University Park, PA 16802
(814) 867-2502


  1. B.S., California State University, San Bernardino, 1999
  2. Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, 2004

Honors and Awards:

  1. Eli Lilly and Company Young Investigator Award in Analytical Chemistry, 2012
  2. NSF CAREER Award, 2012
  3. Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow, 2012
  4. 3M Non-Tenured Faculty Award, 2012
  5. 3M Non-Tenured Faculty Award, 2011
  6. 3M Non-Tenured Faculty Award, 2010
  7. Outstanding Professor in Chemistry, Alpha Chi Sigma, 2010
  8. Popular Mechanics Breakthrough Award, 2009
  9. Gates Foundation Grand Challenge Explorations Award, 2009
  10. DARPA Young Faculty Award, 2009
  11. Beckman Young Investigator, 2009
  12. Thieme Chemistry Journal Awardee, 2009
  13. Eberly College of Science Dean’s Climate and Diversity Award, 2009
  14. Camille and Henry Dreyfus New Faculty Award, 2008
  15. Martarano Career Development Professor, 2009
  16. NIH Ruth L. Kirschstein NRSA Postdoctoral Fellow 2007–2008 (Harvard University).
  17. Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow, 2004–2007 (Harvard University).
  18. Eli Lilly Graduate Fellowship, 2002–2004
  19. Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceutical Inc. Fellowship, 2001–2002
  20. Outstanding Undergraduate Student, Natural Sciences, 1999
  21. Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, 1998

Selected Publications:

“Metering the Capillary-Driven Flow of Fluids in Paper-Based Microfluidic Devices”, Noh, H.; Phillips, S. T.*, Anal. Chem. 2010, 82, 4181–4187.

“Patterned Plastics that Change Physical Structure in Response to Applied Chemical Signals”, Seo, W.; Phillips, S. T.*, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2010, 132, 9234–9235. Highlighted in: Nature Chemistry, twice in New Scientist (June 28, 2010 and June 30, 2010), European Plastics News, SYNFACTS, JACS Select, Plastics, Green Earth Africa, Platinum Today, Iran Daily,, Carbon Capture Report, Chemistry in the News: Exploring Chemistry, Renewable Energy Blog.

“Fluidic “Timers” for Paper-Based Microfluidic Devices”, Noh, H.; Phillips, S. T.*, Anal. Chem. 2010, 82, 8071–8078.  Highlighted in: Chemistry & Engineering News, Philadelphia Inquirer, USA Today, Gizmag Emerging Technology Magazine, Science Magazine: Science Daily News, Technology Daily: Style and Reviews Daily News Magazine, Science Daily, Oil & Gas Industry Today: Paraffin News,, Laboratory,, Justmeans, Internet, Fluidics: Microfluidics News,,, International Hospital, Latest Technology Blog, Lower my,,, Health Info Here,

“A Two-Component Small Molecule System for Activity-Based Detection and Signal Amplification: Application to the Visual Detection of Threshold Levels of Pd(II)”, Baker, M. S.; Phillips, S. T.*, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2011, 133, 5170–5173. Highlighted in: Chemistry & Engineering News.

“Use of Catalytic Fluoride under Neutral Conditions for Cleaving Silicon–Oxygen Bonds”, DiLauro, A.; Seo, W.; Phillips, S. T.*, J. Org. Chem. 2011, 76, 7352–7358.

“A Structurally Simple Self-Immolative Reagent that Provides Three Distinct, Simultaneous Responses per Specific Detection Event”, Nuñez, S. A.; Yeung, K.; Fox, N. S.; Phillips, S. T.*, J. Org. Chem. 2011, 76, 10099–10113.

“Self-Powered Microscale Pumps Based on Analyte-Initiated Depolymerization Reactions”, Zhang, H.; Yeung, K.; Robbins, J. S.; Pavlick, R. A.; Wu, M.; Liu, R.; Sen, A.*; Phillips, S. T.*, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2012, 51, 2400–2404. Selected as a "Hot Paper" by the editors of Angewandte Chemie. Highlighted in:Chemistry World.

“Signal Amplification via an Autocatalytic, Base-Mediated Cascade Elimination Reaction”, Mohapatra, H.; Phillips, S. T.*, Chem. Commun. 201248, 3018–3020.

“Fluidic Batteries in Paper-Based Microfluidic Devices”, Thom, N. K.; Yeung, K.; Pillion, M. B.; Phillips, S. T.*, Lab Chip, DOI:10.1039/C2LC40126F.

“A Small Molecule Sensor for Fluoride Based on an Autoinductive, Colorimetric Signal Amplification Reaction”, Baker, M. S.; Phillips, S. T.*, Org. Biomol. Chem., accepted.


Chemistry for Resource-Limited Environments

We are using organic chemistry to create “autonomous diagnostics”—that is, diagnostic devices that provide all of the functions typically obtained with instruments (selectivity, sensitivity, quantitative measurements, and clearly displayed information), but using only organic reactions on a piece of paper. Our goal is to devise chemistry that forms the basis for exceedingly simple and disposable diagnostics devices. These systems will be useful in the developing world, emergency rooms, and other applications requiring portable and inexpensive devices for detecting disease or pollution.


Designing "Living" Materials

We are developing materials that respond to external signals by changing shape, function, and/or surface properties. This work can be extended to developing materials that grow, and possibly divide.

Research Interests:


Bottom-up approaches to sensing


Bioorganic chemistry, bioinspired organic chemistry


Applied organic chemistry

Materials and Nanoscience

Responsive materials


Design and synthesis of functional molecules

Chemical Biology