Science For a Greater Good at American University

Discover American University. Discover your purpose.

At Washington, DC’s American University, we believe that science can save the world. 

In 2020, AU opened the doors to its Hall of Sciences, a 125,000-square-feet, cutting-edge facility, dedicated to biology, environmental science, chemistry, and neuroscience. It has transformed the sciences at AU. Students work in technologically advanced laboratories, learning from experts who are shaping their fields and taking on some of the toughest challenges facing our world—addiction, cancer research, health disparities, climate change, and much more. 

AU and the Environment 

AU is the first university in the United States to have a carbon neutral campus. It launched the American University Center for Environmental Policy, taking an interdisciplinary approach to issues like climate change. 

Environmental science faculty are doing other important work, including tracking the global flow of seafood species, monitoring microplastics (funded by NOAA), field-testing a water quality monitoring robot, and using time lapse cameras to monitor tree phenology and the impact of urbanization and climate change. 

The Brain, Obesity, and Addiction 

Distinguished Professor of Neuroscience Terry Davidson, chair of AU’s new Department of Neuroscience and director of AU’s Center for Neuroscience and Behavior, is leading groundbreaking research poised to transform our understanding of addiction and other cognitive disorders. His team’s cross-disciplinary research on the influence of diet and susceptibility to addiction addresses a root cause of drug abuse by linking both drug abuse and overeating to cognitive, rather than motivational, control impairments.  


Our biology faculty are making important connections between obesity and cancer progression, researching how fat cells in tumors affect cancer cell growth, progression, and drug responses.  

Other faculty are studying endocrine disrupting compounds in water systems, using researching colony collapse disorder in honeybees, and conducting an NSF-funded study of DNA to help us understand regulation that occurs in cells, which can contribute to anything from improving traits in crop plants to better understanding a wide range of human diseases. 


The Department of Chemistry is a hub of groundbreaking research. Faculty are using carbon electrodes to measure phenolic impurities in petroleum processing that could potentially lead to safer and cleaner fuel sources, examining the effects of HIV on drug use and abuse, developing computational tools that can help fight the spread of chemical weapons, and examining the procedural and human side to data collection and analysis in the forensics field. 

A City Filled with Opportunity 

AU’s students come from around the world to study in Washington, DC, a city filled with research, internship, and career opportunities for STEM majors. Forbes magazine ranked DC second in the nation for STEM jobs—at preeminent science institutions, federal and international agencies, nonprofits, and in the thriving private sector, which includes the technology and defense corridors of Virginia and Maryland. 

AU’s science programs prepare students to become scientists and innovators who have the power to make an extraordinary impact. 

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