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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 elected president of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

Bruce Bursten
Bruce Bursten
Bursten will serve a one-year term as president of ACS. With more than 160,000 members, the ACS is the world’s largest scientific organization. He served as the organization’s president-elect in 2007.

“Having Bruce in this role is significant for him personally and for UT Knoxville,” said UT Knoxville Interim Chancellor Jan Simek. “The past year already has increased the profile of our campus and the College of Arts and Sciences 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.

“My efforts with the ACS will be remarkably synergistic with many of our goals in the College of Arts and Sciences,” said Bursten. “In particular, part of my agenda with the ACS is to stimulate more interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education, which will leverage our similar activities at UT Knoxville.”

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.

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

“I realize that a year is a short time in which to make a difference in a field as rich and varied as chemistry and in a society as complex and multifaceted as the ACS,” Bursten said in a message to ACS members. “But it is my hope that during this year, we will be able to work together to make a difference in the future of chemistry.”

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 doctorate 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.


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