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Alfred Burger

Dr. Alfred Burger was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1905 and received a Ph.D. degree from the University of Vienna in 1928. He was employed as a research chemist by the Hoffman-LaRoche Company before coming to the United States in 1929. He became a Research Associate at the Drug Addiction Laboratory of the National Research Council at the University of Virginia where he conducted research on the chemistry of opium alkaloids and the synthesis of morphine substitutes. In 1938, he joined the faculty of the Department of Chemistry at the University of Virginia. He taught organic and medicinal chemistry to over 4,500 students before retiring in 1970. Dr. Burger passed away December 30, 2000 at the age of 95. 

His research activities with a staff of 40 graduate and 33 postdoctoral students included studies on the design and synthesis of analgesic, chemotherapeutic, and antidepressant drugs. One of his synthetic compounds was developed as a widely used clinical antidepressant under the name of tanylcypromine (Parnale). He was Chairman of the UVA Chemistry Department in 1962-63, a visiting professor in biochemistry at the University of Hawaii, and a lecturer at many American and foreign universities and industrial research departments. He was the first to bring female graduate students into the UVA Department of Chemistry.

In the 1950s, professor emeritus Alfred Burger of the University of Virginia defined the principles of medicinal chemistry when he wrote its first-ever textbook, Burger's Medicinal Chemistry and Drug Discovery, now in its sixth edition (2013). Burger also became the first editor of the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry at its foundation in 1958.

Dr. Burger received the Louis Pasteur Medal of the French Pasteur Institute, the Smissman Award of the American Chemical Society, and the Award in Medicinal Chemistry from the American Pharmaceutical Association. The ACS award in Medicinal Chemistry is named for him. He founded the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry in 1958 and served as its editor for 14 years. He also served as editor of Medicinal Chemistry Research and as Chairman of the ACS Division of Medicinal Chemistry.

Since 1980, the American Chemical Society awards the Alfred Burger Award in Medicinal Chemistry, sponsored by GlaxoSmithKline, in the amount of $5000 to recognize outstanding contributions to research in medicinal chemistry.

Professor Burger authored over 200 papers and numerous books, including his treatise on Medicinal Chemistry which is now in its sixth edition. His other books include Understanding Medications; Searching, Teaching & Writing-What Fun; Drugs & People; Drugs Affecting the Peripheral Nervous System; and Drugs Affecting the Central Nervous System.

At least seven talks were given by Dr. Burger at Virginia Section meetings. His presentations included:

“Micromolecular Chemistry: - January, 1937, Waynesboro “Some Problems of Chemotherapy” - November, 1940, Richmond “Chemotherapy Since 1940" - May, 1944, Richmond “Medical Chemistry Since the War” - February, 1948, Richmond “Medicinal Chemistry-Today and Tomorrow” - December, 1954, Richmond “Medicinal Chemistry-Its Problems and Hopes” - December, 1961, Richmond “How Do Medications Act and How Are They Discovered?” - March, 1992 - Farmville

Professor Burger played the violin and had a lifelong love of classical music. He was survived by his wife of 65 years, Frances Page Burger, and a daughter.

from - - American Chemistry Society. Virginia News & membership. February, 2001.

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Thomas Crowell

Thomas Irving Crowell III, of Charlottesville, Virginia, died at the age of 101, on Monday, October 10, 2022 at the Martha Jefferson House. He was born on July 9, 1921 in Glen Ridge, New Jersey, the oldest of four sons of Pauline Whittlesey Crowell and Thomas Irving Crowell Jr. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his wife, Mary Wheat Crowell, R.N. (UVA 1950) and his brother, James W. Crowell, of Hanover, New Hampshire.

Tom is survived by two brothers, David A. Crowell of Concord, Massachusetts, and Kenneth L. Crowell and his wife, Marnie Reed Crowell of Sunset, Maine; his two daughters, Lesslie A. Crowell and Mary Allison Crowell, both of Charlottesville, Virginia; two grandsons, Gustave H. Rathe of Howardsville, Virginia, and Thomas C. Rathe and his wife, Sarah Cheshire, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama; sister-in-law, Deborah Crowell of Hanover, New Hampshire; and many nieces and nephews.

Tom attended public schools in his home town of Caldwell, New Jersey and The Putney School in Putney, Vermont. After graduating from Harvard University in 1943, he worked as a chemist on the Manhattan Project of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in New York City. At the end of World War II, he entered graduate school at Columbia University (Ph.D. 1948 in the laboratory of Professor Louis P. Hammett). While at Columbia he commuted to Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York to teach math. He joined the faculty of the University of Virginia in 1948 -but not before spending part of the summer riding a 3 speed bicycle from Manhattan to Quebec. At UVA he taught courses in organic and physical-organic chemistry and served as chairman of the chemistry department from 1957 to 1962.

At the University of Virginia's old Cobb Chemical Laboratory, Tom renovated a large corner room and used his glassblowing experience to make chemical apparatus. His research was in kinetics, the science of observing how fast substances react with each other when mixed, an important means of learning how new products are formed in nature. He and his students did early work using hot molten salts as solvents. He loved working in his laboratory more than sitting at his desk, and after retiring from UVA in 1984, he continued working in his home lab until he was 90. He was employed by Du Pont in Waynesboro, Virginia during the summer og 1951.

Tom was an enthusiastic amateur musician, studying piano from childhood to age 17, accompanying his brother and parents, all violinists. Later, at UVA, he played chamber music with many friends and was piano accompanist for the Gilbert and Sullivan operettas sponsored by the AAUW in Cabell Hall, and for the University Singers.

However, he always considered the French horn his primary instrument. He was president of the Harvard University Orchestra and played in the Massachusetts N.Y.A. Orchestra, the Columbia University Orchestra and the Virginia Symphony. He was a founding member of the University of Virginia Orchestra in 1949 and played in several wind quintets in Virginia, and earlier, in New York City.

Tom was a member of the Charlottesville Municipal Band in 1948 and played for several years with the Senior Center's Second Wind Band.

The study of nature brought Tom immense pleasure, and he spent much of his time hiking alone or with friends in New Hampshire, the Maine woods, and Virginia's Blue Ridge. In his later years, neighbors met him on his daily walks as recently as last spring. He also enjoyed playing tennis and sailing in the waters off Cape Cod. He was a member of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Charlottesville; the NAACP; Wednesday Music Club; and the American Chemical Society.

The family wishes to thank Tom's physicians, also the entire staff of the Martha Jefferson House for their kind and expert care.

A memorial service will be held at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Charlottesville, 717 Rugby Road, Charlottesville, on Saturday, November 5, 2022, at 3 p.m. Hill and Wood is handling arrangements.

In lieu of flowers memorial donations may be made to Southern Environmental Law Center, 120 Garrett Street, Suite 400, Charlottesville, VA 22902, or to the Martha Jefferson House, 1600 Gordon Avenue, Charlottesville, VA 22903.

Published by Daily Progress from Oct. 16 to Oct. 23, 2022.


UVA Chemistry People Ireland

Robert Ellsworth Ireland

Robert Ellsworth Ireland (Bob) passed away on Saturday, February 4th, 2012 at Sarasota Memorial Hospital in Sarasota Florida. He is survived by his wife Margaret, brother Andrew, and children Mark and Richard. Bob, a world-renowned chemistry professor resided in Sarasota these past seventeen years after retiring from the University of Virginia in 1995.

Bob received an A.B. degree from Amherst College in 1951, followed by a Ph.D. degree under the direction of William S. Johnson from the University of Wisconsin in 1954. He then studied as a NSF postdoctoral fellow in the group of William G. Young at the University of California, Los Angeles, from 1954-56.  He joined the University of Michigan faculty in 1956 and, subsequently moved to the California Institute of Technology in 1965 as Professor of Organic Chemistry.  In 1985, he left Cal Tech to become Director of the Merrell-Dow Research Institute in Strasbourg, France.  After a year in that position he came to the University of Virginia as Chairman of the Chemistry department and was selected as the inaugural Thomas Jefferson Chair Professor of Chemistry.  He assumed emeritus status in 1995. Among his noteworthy achievements as Chair of the Department was a substantial new addition to the Chemistry Building, completed in 1995.

Bob Ireland received numerous awards in recognition of his contributions to organic synthesis. These include a Sloan Fellowship, the Ernest Guenther Award in the Chemistry of Essential Oils, and the ACS Award for Creative Work in Synthetic Organic Chemistry. He was the first to demonstrate the awesome synthetic potential of the enolate Claisen rearrangement, a reaction that now bears his name. His significant impact on synthetic organic chemistry reflected not only his scientific achievements, but also his style of presentation both in seminars and the scientific literature.  His publications are a model of clarity and thoroughness. Early in his career he wrote Organic Synthesis (Prentice Hall, 1969), the first-ever textbook on synthetic strategy. In it one finds the oft quoted passage “Stereochemistry Raises its Ugly Head” as the title of Chapter 5.  The final chapter, “Multistage Synthesis: Logistics and Stereochemistry Combine to Produce Nightmares,” presages the present era of complex molecule construction.  Though nearly 40 years old, the book can still serve as a text for a modern mid-level course in synthetic organic chemistry.

Bob’s lucid and often entertaining lectures in the classroom and at industrial organizations graphically illustrated the power and beauty of multistage organic synthesis and inspired generations of chemists, both young and old. It is worth noting that many of his former students and postdoctoral associates have become successful chemists themselves and now hold leadership positions in industry, government, and universities, both in the U.S. and abroad. His many contributions to education and science will be long remembered.

James A. Marshall, Charlottesville Virginia

UVA Chemistry People Martin

R. Bruce Martin

Bruce received his B.S. degree in chemistry at Northwestern University and received a Ph.D. degree in photochemistry from the University of Rochester.  Following postdoctoral appointments at both the California Institute of Technology and Harvard University, Bruce taught briefly at the American University of Beirut in Lebanon and came to the University of Virginia in 1959.  Throughout his research career, Professor Martin applied the methodologies of a physical chemist to investigate a wide range of problems of biological inspiration and consequence.  When he retired in 1994, he had published more than 200 papers ranging across physical, inorganic, biophysical, bioinorganic, physical organic, and bioorganic chemistry.  In 1964, he published a very highly regarded textbook, “Introduction to Biophysical Chemistry” that was translated into multiple languages. Bruce served as Chair during a difficult period in the Department’s history and was the principal catalyst in our transition to a modern Chemistry Department.  Bruce’s Chemistry colleagues remember him as a thoughtful and conscientious mentor and friend who went out of his way to support his colleagues and provide valuable counsel, especially to younger faculty.  Professor Martin received the President’s and Visitors’ Research Prize of the University three times, the J. Shelton Horsley Research Award of the Virginia Academy of Science, and recognition as a fellow of the AAAS. Since about 2005, Bruce and his wife had lived in Palo Alto, California. Bruce passed away in May 2018. 

UVA Chemistry People Bill Myers

William H. Myers

Bill Myers was a strict teacher teaching a tough subject — chemistry. He expected discipline. However, he would do everything to help his students succeed. He offered review and practice sessions for his exams. He posted every test he ever administered online so students could practice on old tests right before upcoming tests. He recorded his lectures and told stories in class – often funny ones — to help students relate to and understand his subject matter. In a University of Richmond post, Bruce Matthews, assistant athletic director for academics, noted, “He wasn’t going to let you go until you had it. … He just cared.”

Dr. Myers, who retired last May as professor of chemistry at UR after teaching and researching for 43 years, died Sept. 14 at home in Richmond at age 70. Doctors diagnosed an aggressive brain tumor in August. Family members say that chemistry was in his blood from the beginning. William Howard Myers was born Jan. 26, 1946, in a hospital in the shadow of nuclear reactors at Oak Ridge, Tenn., the secret “Fenced City” that housed the Manhattan Project, which the previous year had produced the atomic bomb that won World War II for the Allies.

His chemist father, Albert Myers, who had overseen the chemical aspects of the site’s uranium enrichment program, left to teach at various universities, including Carson-Newman in Jefferson County, Tenn., where Dr. Myers grew up and graduated with honors from high school in 1963. That summer, his father moved the family to Houston, where he helped establish a new Houston Baptist University. Dr. Myers lived at home and attended HBU, majoring in chemistry, physics and math and taking every science course the school offered. After running out of classes to take, he spent his final semester as an intern at Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago, where he decided he never wanted to live again in a cold city.

In Texas, he met Barbara Sue McElvany, whom he married after graduation from HBU in 1967. They moved to the University of Florida at Gainesville, where she finished earning a sociology degree and he began work on his doctorate in inorganic chemistry. When he drew a low draft number during the Vietnam War, Florida put him on staff to teach freshman chemistry, which deferred him long enough to join the Reserve Officer Training Corps and transition into the officers’ Chemical Corps. In 1972, when he earned his doctorate, he was an Army captain. He served in the Army Reserve until 1981.

In fall 1973, he came to the University of Richmond as an associate professor of chemistry, becoming one of five members of his family to teach college chemistry. Dr. Myers chose teaching over research because he loved people and relished encouraging them to reach their potential, according to family. He had a special spot in his heart for student-athletes in his class.

Leland Melvin, a UR football standout who became a NASA astronaut, noted that, “The whole time I was in space, I reflected on people who had not given up on me. … And he was one of them. Dr. Myers was that person who molded me and guided me and helped me understand what chemistry was all about and brought it to life. “All those traits you want your kids to have, he tried to instill them in us: having good character, being a strong person, believing in yourself. It wasn’t just chemistry but in life.”

When former UR offensive lineman Chris Kondorossy became anxious about passing his dental school entrance exam, Dr. Myers invited him to his home, according to the UR post. “I went out there every Saturday for a whole summer at 7 a.m.,” he said. “He privately tutored me for two or three hours. His wife would make us coffee, and we’d sit at the dining room table. “He would go through the textbook front to back. I’d take practice exams with him. I’d get stuck, and he’d tell me why. That’s probably the only reason I was able to get into VCU [Dental School]. … I’ll never forget that. He was looking out for me. That’s who he was.”

Growing up in a family that loved everything from hymns to symphonic music, Dr. Myers developed a love of music and the arts. Playing the lead in “Amahl and the Night Visitors” as a child in Tennessee started him on his way. In Richmond, he sang in the Richmond Symphony Chorus under James Erb and also had lent his voice to the bass sections of church choirs.

In a letter to Dr. Myers on Sept. 6, Jim Hall, a former UR colleague of Dr. Myers, wrote, “I am so glad that you and Barbara took the time this summer to see your families. There’s nothing more important than family this side of Jordan.”

The family archivist, Dr. Myers converted his grandfather’s weekly family newsletters to print and digital formats, preserving more than 25 years of family history. He also collected, organized and preserved family photos and slides.

With Southern Baptist roots running deep on both sides of his family, “he loved his church,” wrote his brother, James “Jim” Myers of Knoxville, Tennessee. “Bill’s life was spent in service to people.”

A self-taught Bible scholar, Dr. Myers found great joy in leading others to more deeply experience God’s word, family members wrote. He taught everywhere he could – at churches, in Kenya, as well as at seminars and conferences. One Thursday per month since 2012, he had led a Bible study group at Deep Meadow Correctional Center. “He was a remarkable teacher of the Bible, of patience, of compassion, of inclusiveness, of love for all people, of ethical/forthright behavior, of clear thinking, of the importance of organization and scholarship, and of unbridled love for God and his family,” another brother, John Myers of Durham, North Carolina, wrote. “His main concern was about each person’s faith in God and their journey with Christ. His gift to each of them was helping them on that journey.”

Please click here to read more on Bill’s life and legacy.

In addition to his brothers, survivors include his wife of 49 years, Barbara Sue McElvany Myers; a daughter, Kathy Burnette; and a son, Bryan Myers, both of Midlothian; and one grandson.

September 20, 2016, Ellen Robertson, Richmond Times Dispatch

UVA Chemistry People Fred Richardson

Frederick S. Richardson

Room 112, Physical and Life Sciences Building

Frederick Smith Richardson 

Born June 8. 1939 in Carlisle, PA - Died April 25, 2024 in Charlottesville, VA

On the morning of April 25, our husband, father, grandfather, and great grandfather passed away peacefully after spending a laughter-filled weekend singing, telling stories and just remembering and celebrating family life together.

Fred's post high school years began at Dickinson College, followed by Princeton University, a two-year period in the Army and the University of California. In 1969 he and his family arrived in Charlottesville where he spent the next 38 years teaching in the Department of Chemistry at UVa.

Retirement at the foot of Flat Top Mountain in Dyke - "The Farm" - brought much pleasure to his life with the family and it gave him an opportunity to relive some of those earlier years growing up on a dairy farm in Pennsylvania.

He will be greatly missed by his wife, Joan, their four children, Julie, Elizabeth, Christine and Jonathan and their spouses, 10 grandchildren and spouses, and three great grandchildren. His spirit and life will continue to live on through the love of family, the many students he mentored along the way and the colleagues he worked beside as he carried out what his educational pursuits had prepared him for. He loved teaching!

During those retirement years, Fred served as a member of the Piedmont Virginia Community College (PVCC) board of directors, and also worked with young children in the Youth Development Council (YDC), an after-school mentoring program in the Greene County Schools. There, he was known there as "The Professor.”  YDC indicated that Fred made an "impact that reached far beyond the classroom walls". He loved sharing afternoons with the kids and he was forever teaching one thing or another - his choice!  Should you choose to honor something Fred especially enjoyed, donations can be sent to YDC, Post Office Box 1162, Stanardsville, VA 22973. 

A private celebration of his life will take place at the family farm later in the year.


Professor Frederick S. Richardson earned his B.S. degree at Dickinson College summa cum laude in 1961. In 1966, he received his Ph.D. at Princeton University working with Walter Kauzmann. He served in the US Army for two years before starting his NSF Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at the University of California, San Diego. In 1969, he joined the faculty in the Chemistry Department at the University of Virginia. Prof. Richardson served as chair of the department from 1983 – 87 and 1992 – 1997. In 1991, he was appointed a Commonwealth Professor. Prof. Richardson is an exceptional physical chemist and is known for his research, teaching, and mentorship.

He was appointed as a Henry Dreyfus Foundation Teacher-Scholar from 1973-78. He taught undergraduate general, physical, and biophysical chemistry, as well as, graduate courses in all areas of physical chemistry. He research supervised 36 Ph.D. students, 6 M.S. students and 28 postdoctoral fellows.

Prof. Richardson has published over 220 papers in scientific journals or books. His principal research interests are:

  • Electronic structure and spectroscopy of molecules and ions in solution and in crystals.
  • Natural and magnetic chiroptical properties of molecular systems.
  • Intermolecular chiral recognition and discrimination phenomena.
  • Spectroscopic probes of metal-ion coordination sites in biomolecular systems.
  • Rare-earth chemistry and spectroscopy.
  • Theory and measurement of nonlinear optical processes in condensed-phase materials.
UVA Chemistry People

Richard J. Sundberg

Richard J. "Dick" Sundberg died on November 1, 2021, in Hickory, N.C., after a period of declining health. A resident of Charlottesville, Virginia, since 1964, he had relocated to North Carolina in May 2021, to be close to daughter Jennifer Sundberg Deal and her family. Born on January 6,  1938, at Sioux Rapids Hospital, Sioux Rapids, Iowa, to Ernest and Rosa (Christensen) Sundberg.

Dick grew up on a farm near Linn Grove, Iowa, the eldest of four surviving children. He attended Linn Grove Consolidated School from kindergarten until graduating as valedictorian of the class of 1955, earning letters and honors in sports and journalism. Dick received his BS degree in Chemistry, with highest distinction, from the University of Iowa in 1959; a distinguished military graduate of the Army ROTC, he received a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant. He completed his PhD in chemistry in August, 1962 at the University of Minnesota, which honored him as a Distinguished Alumnus in 2001. 

After serving two years in the U.S. Army Chemical Corps, Dick began his long and successful academic career in 1964 at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville. An excellent teacher and mentor, productive researcher, and skillful administrator, he had a global impact on the field of organic chemistry. He was the author of a number of papers, reviews and monographs in his field, and co-authored the preeminent graduate text in organic chemistry, Advanced Organic Chemistry, revising it through five editions. But his character as much as his scholarship— his "unyielding intellectual honesty in his approach to science"— impacted his students, post docs and colleagues, who found him "rigorous but patient, firm but  understanding," with a kind and  diligent way of discussing problems and challenges, steadily accompanied by a subtle sense of humor. His service to the University of Virginia included terms as chair of the Department of Chemistry and as Associate Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences. After his May 2016 retirement and appointment as professor emeritus, he continued to teach, and published The Chemical Century: Molecular Manipulation and Its Impact on the 20th Century in 2017. Dick married Lorna Lou Swift, of Madison, South Dakota, on August 19, 1961, and deeply mourned her death in 2001. Together they raised two daughters in Charlottesville while not forgetting where they were from: Most summers saw treks to the Midwest to visit Swift and Sundberg relatives and the family farm in Iowa. Dick's professional success and curiosity also created some special opportunities for the family. His year at Stanford University as an NIH postdoctoral fellow brought family road trips from Virginia to California and back, and visits to dozens of Western state and national parks. A second sabbatical as a Fulbright Scholar moved the family to the suburbs of Paris for a year, and occasioned extensive travel in Europe, including an epic journey to Denmark accompanied by Dick's Iowa-born, Danish-speaking mother, who took her eldest son's family to the home place of her parents, and introduced the Americans to distant but very welcoming Danish cousins. 

Dick believed in working hard, and held onto his Midwestern farm boy values of "waste not, want not." He cultivated a Charlottesville community garden plot for decades, raising his plants from seed and harvesting a bounty of food that he cooked and shared. He was a proud and devoted grandfather, traveling to New Hampshire, North Carolina, and beyond for games, performances, and graduations. He was a faithful worshipper, volunteer, and leader at St. Mark Lutheran Church; a loyal friend; a good neighbor; a person of principles; and the author of many firmly worded letters to elected officials. In later years, he enjoyed the loving company of his friend and companion Erin Craner, in gardening, cooking, traveling, and socializing through The Center and the Colonnade Club. He was brilliant, kind, down to earth, patient, organized, generous, hopeful, and utterly practical. To the last, he loved fresh vegetables and extra dessert. 

He was preceded in death by his parents, Ernest and Rosa (Christensen) Sundberg; infant brother, Roland Sundberg; sister, Sandra Sundberg Bergman; and wife Lorna Swift Sundberg. He is survived by brother, Ron of Linn Grove, Iowa; brother-in-law, Bud Bergman of Waverly, Iowa; brother and sister-in-law, Dale and Pam Sundberg of San Jose, California; daughters and sons-in-law, the Rev. Kelly Sundberg Seaman and David Seaman of Syracuse, N.Y., and Jennifer and Eddie Deal of Hickory, N.C.; grandchildren, Marshall Deal and wife, Alex, Eleanor Seaman, Emily Deal, Juls Sundberg, Ben Seaman, and Sam Deal, as well as nieces, nephews, and extended family in Iowa, California, Florida, and beyond. The family offers great gratitude to the caregivers and staff members of Carolina Caring, for their hospice care, and of Trinity Ridge, Hickory (Lutheran Services Carolinas), his home from August 2021 until his death.

Due to Covid restrictions, a memorial service will be live-streamed from St. Mark Lutheran Church, Charlottesville, on Monday, December 13, 2021, at 3 p.m. Details will be available at A committal service will be held in Iowa in the spring. Memorial gifts and tributes in lieu of flowers, are gratefully welcomed to the Carolina Caring Foundation, 3975 Robinson Rd., Newton, NC 28658,, or St. Mark Lutheran Church, 100 Alderman Rd., Charlottesville VA 22903. Bass-Smith Funeral Home in Hickory is serving the Sundberg family.

An obituary was also published in UVAToday on Friday, December 3, 2021 and can be found here

UVA Chemistry People Yates

John T. Yates, Jr.

In Memorium

John Thomas Yates, Jr.

August 3, 1935 – September 26, 2015

John T. Yates, Jr., Professor of Chemistry at the University of Virginia, member of the US National Academy of Sciences, and a pioneer of modern surface science, passed away at his home on Saturday morning September 26, 2015, from a recurring glioblastoma.  John was both courageous, pragmatic and forthright about his diagnosis right to the end.  His wife, Kerin, related that John, upon learning of his diagnosis, said that he had had a great life and was not going to ‘let the last 1.25%’ define him.   It did not.  He had a wonderful family and a stellar career.

Born in Winchester, Virginia on August 3, 1935, he received his B.S. degree in chemistry from Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania in 1956, and his Ph.D. in physical chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1960 — working with Professor Carl W. Garland.  Following three years as an Assistant Professor at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, he joined the National Bureau of Standards, Gaithersburg, Maryland (now the National Institute of Standards and Technology), first as an NRC Postdoctoral Research Fellow and then, from 1965 until 1982, as a member of its scientific staff.  He was a Senior Visiting Scholar at the University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK in 1970-71, and the Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Scholar at the California Institute of Technology in 1977-78.  He joined the University of Pittsburgh in 1982 as the first R.K. Mellon Professor of Chemistry, and as the Founding Director of the University of Pittsburgh Surface Science Center.  In 1994 he received a joint appointment in the Department of Physics.  In 2006, he retired from the University of Pittsburgh and moved to the University of Virginia as Professor and Shannon Research Fellow.

Throughout his career, his research was in the fields of surface chemistry and physics, including interests in the structure and spectroscopy of surface species, the dynamics of surface processes, and the development of new methods for research in surface chemistry.  When he moved to the University of Virginia, he also became professionally active in the field of astrochemistry.  He was an accomplished amateur astronomer and woodworker.  He had a passionate lifelong interest in clocks, accuracy in timekeeping, and precision instrumentation, both antique and modern.  To his core, he was “a measurer” with accuracy and precision.  His colleagues and competitors alike knew that they could always trust, without question, the measured quantities in his published works.

John Yates was an exceptional scientist and gifted communicator.  He had a knack for making complex problems seem simple after he studied them in depth and communicated his results so beautifully, typically with his own meticulously hand-drawn diagrams.  He published more than 750 scientific papers on surface chemistry and physics, and is among the 100 most-cited chemists in the world.  His professional accomplishments have been recognized by many prestigious awards and honors, including: Silver Medal – U.S. Department of Commerce (1973); Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Scholar – Caltech (1977-78); Stratton Award for Distinguished Research – NBS (1978); Gold Medal, U.S. Department of Commerce’s Highest Award (1981); Kendall Award for Colloid or Surface Chemistry of the American Chemical Society (1987); Inaugural President’s Distinguished Research Award – University of Pittsburgh (1989); E.W. Morley Medal of the Cleveland ACS (1990); Fellow of the American Physical Society (1992); Medard Welch Award –American Vacuum Society’s highest technical award (1994); Fellow of the American Vacuum Society (1994); Alexander von Humboldt Senior Research Award (1994); Member of the National Academy of Sciences (1996); Pittsburgh-Cleveland Catalysis Society Award (1998); Pittsburgh Award of the Pittsburgh ACS (1998); Arthur W. Adamson Award for Distinguished Service in the Advancement of Surface Chemistry of the ACS (1999); J.W. Linnett Visiting Professorship – Cambridge University (2000); Outstanding Alumnus of Juniata College (2000); G.N. Lewis Lecturer, University of California-Berkeley (2002); Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Fellowship (2002); Gwathmey Visiting Professor, University of Virginia (2002-03); Fellow of The Institute of Physics (2004); and the Peter Debye Award in Physical Chemistry of the ACS (2007); Theodore Madey Award of the AVS (2011); Gerhard Ertl Lecturer Award for Surface Chemistry and Catalysis (2013).

Professor Yates was a kind, patient, trusted and generous mentor and advisor to the more than 1000 students, postdocs and collaborators with whom he interacted. He was an inspirational undergraduate and graduate teacher and mentor.  He demonstrated and conveyed an excitement about science, the wonders of scientific discovery, and a love of learning that encouraged and helped many to pursue scientific careers.  In addition, he developed strong professional relationships with a number of surface science research programs in academic, government, and industrial research laboratories throughout the world. He served on the editorial boards of six scientific journals and two book series in surface science and catalysis. He was Associate Editor of the ACS journal, Langmuir.  He also served on the Advisory Board of Chemical & Engineering News and on the International Advisory Board of Chemistry World.

Yates was generous in his service of scientific societies such as the American Vacuum Society, the American Physical Society, and the American Chemical Society, including past service as a member of the AVS Board of Directors, AVS Trustee Chair, and twice as the AVS Surface Science Division Chair.  He was the past chairman of the APS Division of Chemical Physics, and the ACS Division of Colloid and Surface Chemistry. He organized many symposia for ACS and APS national meetings, and was Chairman of three Gordon Research Conferences. He co-edited two books, Vibrational Spectroscopy of Molecules on Surfaces, Plenum, 1987 and Chemical Perspectives of Microelectronic Materials, Materials Research Society, 1989. He co-authored a book entitled, The Surface Scientists Guide to Organometallic Chemistry, ACS, 1987.  He also co-authored a textbook, Molecular Physical Chemistry for Engineers, University Science Books, published in 2007.  His book, Experimental Innovations in Surface Science, was originally published by Springer-Verlag and The American Institute of Physics in 1998; a second edition, his last major project, was published in 2015.

John is survived by Kerin – his wife of 57 years, his sons Geoffrey (Michelle), and Nathan (Jan), and six grandchildren, Andrew, Steven, Caitlin, Lauren, Hannah and Sara. His passing is a loss for his family and for science, but he has left a lasting legacy in his published work, and in the generations of scientists he mentored.

John N. Russell, Jr., Ph.D.
Head, Surface Chemistry Branch, Naval Research Laboratory, Washington DC

Thomas P. Beebe, Jr., Ph.D.
Professor of Chemistry, University of Delaware, Newark DE

(former graduate students)