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KNOXVILLE — Bruce Bursten, dean of the University of Tennessee’s College of Arts and Sciences and a distinguished professor of chemistry, has been chosen president-elect of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

Bruce Bursten
Bruce Bursten
Bursten will serve a one-year term as president-elect before becoming president of ACS in 2008. With over 158,000 members, the ACS is the world’s largest scientific organization.

“Bruce’s election is both a significant personal achievement and a feather in the cap of the University of Tennessee,” said UT Chancellor Loren Crabtree. “This level of national and international leadership will benefit the university and Bruce’s leadership of the College of Arts and Sciences, as well as raising the university’s profile in the science and research community.”

The ACS was founded in 1876, and among its past presidents are numerous Nobel Prize winners, including famed chemist Linus Pauling.

“This is both thrilling and humbling to me,” said Bursten. “Chemistry is central to nearly all our global challenges and solutions. The ACS must help drive us toward new and essential scientific discoveries, and must serve as a strong and vocal proponent of the beauty and power of chemistry.

In his role as the leader of ACS, Bursten will be responsible for the outreach, membership, and policy aspects of the society, as well as playing a significant role in ACS business operations. He will also serve as a member of the society’s board of directors over the next three years.

Bursten cited improved communication by the chemistry and larger scientific communities and issues of science education as the most prominent goals of his term.

“At a time when we face critical shortages in energy and we are making great strides in research in advanced materials and chemical biology, it is important to communicate to the public the importance of chemistry to society,” said Bursten.

He said he will look specifically at ways the ACS can help increase the number of undergraduate students studying chemistry, a focus of his work in the College of Arts and Sciences.

“Bruce certainly joins an elite group in achieving this most recent honor, which is especially significant in coming from his peers in the American Chemical Society,” said UT President John Petersen, an inorganic chemist and also an ACS member. “I join Chancellor Crabtree in congratulating Bruce on this success.”

Bursten came to UT in 2005 after a 25-year career at Ohio State University, where he was a distinguished university professor of chemistry and had served as chemistry department chair.

He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Chicago and went on to earn his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. After completing his doctoral degree, he completed a two-year National Science Foundation post-doctoral fellowship at Texas A & M.

Bursten’s research is in inorganic chemistry, focusing on theoretical and computational studies of the chemical structures of and bonding in a variety of metal-containing molecules. Much of his current research involves theoretical studies of compounds near the bottom of the periodic table, such as uranium, that are important in nuclear energy. He has been the author or co-author of more than 150 research papers, as well as co-authoring a leading general chemistry textbook.


Lynn Champion (865-974-4676, champion@utk.edu)
Jay Mayfield (865-974-9409, jay.mayfield@tennessee.edu)