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ACS Award for Volunteer Service to the American Chemical Society

February 13, 2006 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 84, Issue 7

Credit: U of Wyoming College of Arts & Sciences
Credit: U of Wyoming College of Arts & Sciences

Sponsored by the ACS General Endowment Fund

Volunteering is what E. Gerald Meyer, emeritus chemistry professor and former dean of the College of Arts & Sciences at the University of Wyoming, is all about. Legendary for his energy and enthusiasm, Meyer, 86, has been active in ACS on local, regional, and national levels during his 67 years of membership. In the words of a colleague, "Gerry is an ACS marathoner."

Meyer's ACS marathon started in the early 1940s, when, as a newly minted chemist with bachelor's and master's degrees from Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University), he abstracted articles from an Indian science journal for Chemical Abstracts Service. At the time, volunteers did all CAS abstracting, and Meyer looks back on this as a great experience. It certainly put him on the right track: He has never stopped serving ACS.

After service as a Naval officer in World War II and then as a scientist in the research division of New Mexico Institute of Mining & Technology, Meyer received a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of New Mexico in 1950. He started his academic chemistry career on the faculties of the University of Albuquerque (1950-52) and New Mexico Highlands University (1952-63). During these years, he was active in the ACS Central New Mexico Section, serving on its Manpower Committee and as its sole councilor from 1957 to 1959.

In 1963, Meyer was Wyoming-bound, with an appointment as professor and dean of the College of Arts & Sciences at the University of Wyoming. During his tenure there, he has volunteered for the Wyoming Section in a number of positions, including serving twice as chair and for 23 years and as councilor starting in 1964.

Throughout his career, Meyer has helped guide ACS through service on numerous ACS committees, including the Committee on Committees and the Committees on Science, Professional Relations, Chemistry & Public Affairs, Membership Affairs, Pensions & Investments, and Meetings & Expositions, as well as on the various incarnations of the Committee on Chemical Abstracts Service, completing the circle he started in the early 1940s. He continues to serve on ACS committees to this day.

He is, perhaps, best known for his work establishing the ACS Rocky Mountain Region Section. He recalls that for many years, he and Bill Cook, then dean of the College of Natural Sciences at Colorado State University, pushed hard to create (and incorporate) the region for the purpose of organizing regional meetings. That quest ran into roadblocks until 1979, when ACS president Gardner W. Stacy of Washington State University got on board.

The region has been incorporated and hosts a regional meeting, usually every other year. Meyer has run four Rocky Mountain Regional Meetings so far and is signed up to chair his fifth (and he says last) in 2007.

ACS is not the only recipient of Meyers' generosity. In his hometown, Laramie, Wyo., he has served as chair of the Chamber of Commerce, on the Regional Airport Board, and on the City Council. He has served as state science adviser, and as president of the Council of Colleges of Arts & Sciences and of the Associated Western Universities.

In 1990, Meyer retired and is currently emeritus professor and dean. He works part-time at the university and on clean-coal technology, although nothing about Meyer seems "part-time." In fact, one wonders if he has been able to clone himself. Preparations for the award address at the San Francisco meeting have not been finalized.-Linda Raber


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