University of Vermont

College of Arts and Sciences

Department of Chemistry

UVM Chemistry News 2009
Willem Leenstra

Prof. Leenstra receives award

Willem Leenstra, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Chemistry at UVM, received the E. Ann Nalley Award from the American Chemical Society (ACS) Northeast Region for volunteer service to the ACS. The award was presented at the 36th Northeast Regional meeting (NERM) of the ACS October 7-10, 2009 in Hartford, CT.

Prof Leenstra has been as active member in the Green Mountain Section of the ACS in one capacity or another for 27 years. During that time, Prof. Leenstra has served two terms as Councilor, two terms as Chair and the two terms as Chair-elect, Secretary and Program Chair. He also shouldered the responsibility for two NE Regional Meetings (24th and 35th ) as the General Chair for those meetings. He organized symposia for the past two NE Regional meetings.

Since 1997, Prof. Leenstra has progressed to participation at the national level, first as a member of the Committee on Local Section Activities. For the past five years, he has been a member of the Committee on Meetings and Expositions of which he is currently chair. He has served on several other national committees. Prof. Leenstra has been recognized for his service and leadership skill with the Green Mountain Section Emerald Award. In spite of his work at both the regional and national level, Dr. Leenstra continues to support the local Green Mountain Section as Councilor and as Editor of the section newsletter.

Dr. Wayne Jones who wrote the following in support of Prof. Leenstra's nomination: "He is a dedicated volunteer that not only provides excellence in service to the chemistry community, but also seeks to help others do the same. I would gladly serve with him again in any capacity and it is right that the ACS and the Northeast Region recognize his many contributions with the volunteer service award."

The purpose of E. Ann Nalley Award is to recognize the volunteer efforts of individuals who have served the American Chemical Society by contributing significantly to the goals and objectives of the Society through their Regional Activities.


William Geiger

Prof. Geiger elected into the Vermont Academy of Science and Engineering (VASE)

William E. Geiger, Ph.D., Professor of Chemistry at UVM, was elected into the Vermont Academy of Science and Engineering at their annual meeting on September 22, 2009.

Four distinguished engineers and scientists were honored by the Vermont Academy of Science and Engineering (VASE) in recognition of outstanding accomplishments in their fields. Included in the four was William Geiger. Prof. Geiger is an internationally recognized analytical chemist with specific expertise in electrochemistry. Prof. Geiger opened research in organometallic chemistry via electrochemistry in the 1970s making fundamental insights in this then new field. Since that time, Prof. Geiger has become arguably the world's expert in this field and in 1996, published the definitive article on the topic that has been cited some 700 times.

There are 56 members in the academy. Up to 4 members from academia, engineering and science are selected annually by VASE. The Department of Chemistry has more members in VASE than any other department in the university: Professor of Chemistry & Medicine and Chair of Chemistry, Dwight Matthews, and Emeritus Professors of Chemistry, Christopher Allen, Ted Flanagan, and Martin Kuehne are all members of VASE.


Rory Waterman

Prof. Rory Waterman wins A Cottrell Scholar Award

UVM Chemistry professor Rory Waterman was selected to receive one of the ten Cottrell Scholar Awards by the Research Corporation for Science Advancement for 2009 in recognition of his leadership in both teaching and scholarship. The award provides a $100,000 grant that Prof. Waterman will use to continue his research in finding new efficient ways to build chemical bonds of the "main-group" elements, especially phosphorous.

Cottrell award winners are chosen both for their dedication to teaching and promising scholarship, reflecting a "conviction that top early career research scientists can be the most effective leaders for teaching innovation at the nation's research universities," the Research Corporation wrote in a press release.

Waterman's award praised his plan to establish a computerized network of research opportunities for Vermont high school and University of Vermont undergraduate students and his development of a research-based course for first-year students.

Cottrell Awards are made each year to ten beginning faculty members at leading US universities in astronomy, biochemistry, biophysics, chemistry, or physics. The awards are named for Frederick Gardner Cottrell whose invention of the electrostatic precipitator helped reduce pollution from smokestacks.

Story excerpted from the Burlington Free Press 6/12/09.


Joseph Wright

Joseph C. Wright awarded the Hannah Howard Prize at the 2009 College of Arts & Sciences Commencement Ceremony

The Hannah Howard Prize is annually awarded to the College of Arts & Sciences undergraduate student with the highest cumulative grade point in the College. Often the award goes to a student with a perfect 4.0 grade point (note: grades of "A+" are recorded as 4 grade points – the same as for an "A").

The 2009 Hannah Howard Prize was awarded to Joseph C. Wright at Commencement on May 17. Joe Wright also received a B.A. degree with a major in Chemistry and minors in physics and pure mathematics. Joe completed his undergraduate degree with a 4.0 grade point of which more than 2/3 were grades of "A+".

Joe Wright graduated from South Burlington High School in Vermont. In high school, Joe loved to teach and spent a large amount of time tutoring students. He continued tutoring and working with students while in college, but never expressed plans to teach until after the fall semester of his senior year when he had the opportunity to be a teaching assistant in charge of an undergraduate laboratory section in Chemistry. This teaching experience as an undergraduate prepares students for their lives as graduate students. So it was planned for Joe. However, at the end of the semester, he decided against pursuing a Ph.D. in Chemistry, but rather wanted to pursue an Masters of Arts in Teaching degree at UVM so that he could teach chemistry at the high school level as a career.

Joe will also be awarded an American Chemistry Society Hach Foundation scholarship for the academic year 2009-2010 at UVM to assist in his M.A.T. studies. This national scholarship is awarded to talented students wishing to prepare for a career in secondary education.


Sandy Wurthmann

Instructor Alexander (Sandy) Wurthmann awarded a 2009 Kroepsch-Maurice Excellence in Teaching Award

The Kroepsch-Maurice Excellence in Teaching Awards from the Center for Teaching & Learning recognize faculty for excellent instruction. They memorialize Robert H. and Ruth M. Kroepsch and her parents, Walter C. and Mary L. Maurice. Robert H. Kroepsch served as Registrar and Dean of Administration at UVM from 1946-56. His wife, Ruth, graduated from UVM in 1938 and her father, Walter Maurice, graduated from UVM in 1909. All four of them were teachers.

  • Excellence in instruction (including learning experiences outside the traditional classroom)
  • Capacity to animate students and engage them in the pursuit of knowledge and understanding
  • Innovation in teaching methods and/or curriculum development
  • Demonstrated commitment to cultural diversity
  • Ability to motivate and challenge students
  • Evidence of excellent advising

Jillian Davidson

Jillian Davidson wins the 2009 Mariafranca Morselli Leadership Award

Jillian Davidson, a graduating senior chemistry major, received the Mariafranca Morselli Leadership Award from the Women's Center. The Mariafranca Morselli Leadership Award is presented annually to an undergraduate woman majoring in a scientific discipline who has demonstrated leadership qualities, academic excellence and who has contributed significantly to the awareness on campus of the rights of women.

Mariafranca Morselli was a Emerita Professor of Botany and was an international scientific leader within her field of maple research. Her unending devotion and commitment to science and the Women's Movement made her an advocate for university women and the leadership they exemplify within the local and international community.


Rory Waterman

Prof. Rory Waterman wins An Alfred P. Sloan Award

UVM Communications News Release, 02-17-2009 by Joshua E. Brown

UVM Chemistry professor Rory Waterman was selected for a research award by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, one of the nation's most prestigious prizes for outstanding early career scientists. Waterman's experiments in catalytic bond formation of elements, like finding new ways to create bonds in phosphorous, have been at the forefront of an important area of basic chemistry research. His work promises to be of great value in fields ranging from drug delivery to LED lights.

The Sloan Research Fellowships have been awarded since 1955, initially in only three scientific fields: physics, chemistry, and mathematics. Since then, 38 Sloan Research Fellows have gone on to win the Nobel Prize in their fields; and 14 have received the Fields Medal, the top honor in mathematics.

The two-year, $50,000 award will begin in May and allow "us to do some really innovative, wacky stuff," Waterman said. "There is this debate within the chemistry community about staying on the known path versus going off the path to look for new approaches."

Waterman is optimistic that the new funding will allow him and his students to go into uncharted territory to "discover things we couldn't achieve through our regular funding," he said, including using a technique called "alpha elimination" for generating a group of useful chemicals called "low valence fragments."

The last UVM researchers to win the Sloan award were retired UVM chemistry professors Martin Kuehne and Hack Bushweller in 1965 and 1971, respectively, both in chemistry.

"The Sloan Research Fellowships support the work of exceptional young researchers early in their academic careers, and often at pivotal stages in their work," said Paul L. Joskow, president of the Sloan Foundation, making the announcement today. Waterman, an assistant professor of chemistry at UVM, is among this year's 118 award winners from a small group of leading research universities including Harvard, MIT, Stanford, and Princeton.

The Sloan awards are now granted in chemistry, physics, mathematics, computer science, economics, neuroscience, and evolutionary molecular biology. Once chosen, Sloan Research Fellows are free to pursue whatever lines of inquiry are of most interest to them, and they are permitted to employ their funds in a wide variety of ways to further their research aims. "There are no parameters yet on the kind of research we want to do," said Waterman, "it's very exciting."

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation is a philanthropic, not-for-profit grant making institution based in New York City. Established in 1934 by Alfred Pritchard Sloan Jr., then-President and Chief Executive Officer of the General Motors Corporation, the foundation makes grants in support of original research and education in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and economic performance.


Rory Waterman Dalton Transactions cover

Prof. Rory Waterman's article in Dalton Transactions is the cover for the first 2009 issue

Prof. Waterman published a perspective article in Dalton Transactions that appeared on the web in October 2008 then in print in the first issue of 2009. The print edition issue cover art was devoted to Prof. Waterman's article. Prof. Waterman's article entitled Metal-Phosphido and -Phosphinidene Complexes in P–E Bond-Forming Reactions can be found on line along with a PDF of the cover. Enjoy reading the article.

Prof. Waterman joins others in the department who have anchored the cover of other prestigious journals including

Thieme Synlett and Synthesis

Prof. Matthias Brewer selected as a Thieme Journal Awardee for 2009

The Editorial Boards of the scientific journals Synlett and Synthesis chose Matthias Brewer as one of their Journal Awardees for 2009. Individuals selected in this category are promising young professors at the beginning of their career. Each year these journals published by Thieme Chemistry award promishing scientists to receive free print and electronic subscriptions of their journals as a gesture of encouragement.


Last modified June 11 2011 09:47 AM

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