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Allen Bard Wins 2004 Welch Award

Texas professor honored for lifetime achievements in electrochemistry

by Mitch Jacoby
May 17, 2004 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 82, Issue 20

Credit: Marsha Miller/UT Austin
Credit: Marsha Miller/UT Austin

  Allen J. Bard, Norman Hackerman-Welch Regents Chair and professor of chemistry at the University of Texas, Austin, has won the 2004 Welch Award in Chemistry. The Texas-based Welch Foundation selected Bard as the recipient of this year’s award in recognition of “his lifetime achievements in basic electrochemistry research.”

The annual chemistry award, which includes a $300,000 prize, honors researchers for “outstanding lifetime contributions to chemistry for the betterment of humankind.” Bard’s contributions are wide-ranging and include advances in basic and applied sciences. For example, the Texas chemist carried out pioneering investigations of photoelectrochemical properties of TiO2 particles and their use in destroying pollutants, as well as studies that led to self-cleaning glass and photocell-based computer memory. In addition, Bard’s research group is well known for developing analytical techniques and instrumentation, such as electrogenerated chemiluminescence and scanning electrochemical microscopy.

Speaking with C&EN from last week’s Electrochemical Society meeting in San Antonio, Texas, Bard remarked that “with major awards like this one, where relatively few are given out, there are a lot more people who deserve one than ultimately get one. So I was really surprised and quite pleased to have won.”

“It’s excellent news,” said Paul A. Kohl, another electrochemist attending the San Antonio meeting. Kohl, a professor of chemical engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, is full of praise for his former professor. “Al has had an enormous impact on many people’s lives,” Kohl asserted. “He is very creative and imaginative. However, it’s his ability to teach, to explain complex material in a simple way, and his interest in helping people that sets him apart.” Kohl added that “Bard taught generations of scientists how to do science, and that science is the best career you could have. Al makes you want to be a better scientist and person.”

Texas A&M chemistry and chemical engineering professor Richard M. Crooks, another of Bard’s former Ph.D. students, noted that Bard shares much in common with the Welch Foundation and, as such, is “a natural for the Welch Award in Chemistry.” Both represent Texas science at its best and have played key roles in putting Texas on the chemistry map, yet both are respected internationally, Crooks commented.

“Al is an incredibly important local influence, but his reputation crosses all borders that respect first-class science, hard work, ethical behavior, and a great attitude,” Crooks said. “Al is truly an amazing person—one of the last great American scientists who puts science and education ahead of the business of science.”

Bard, 70, graduated with a Ph.D. degree in chemistry from Harvard University in 1958 and began his chemistry career in the same year at UT Austin, where he has remained ever since. He has mentored some 75 graduate students and 150 postdoctoral researchers. And for 20 years he served as editor of the Journal of the American Chemical Society.



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