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by Susan J. Ainsworth
April 28, 2008 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 86, Issue 17


Werner F. Beckert, 79, a researcher with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Las Vegas, died on Jan. 18.

Born in Reutlingen, Germany, Beckert earned a Ph.D. in chemistry at the University of TÜbingen in 1963. He then accepted a position as a research chemist with the U.S. Navy, one of a group of German chemists recruited to work at its Indian Head, Md., facility. While there, Beckert focused on chemical syntheses and helped to develop a chemical-based gas generator to inflate rescue balloons for downed pilots.

In 1972, Beckert joined EPA in Las Vegas. During his career there, he worked on the development of environmentally friendly analytical methods for measuring pollutants, including dioxins. He also published a 1974 paper in Nature on the formation of methylmercury in a terrestrial environment, one of 50 publications he authored or coauthored during his career. Beckert helped to write the first patent issued to EPA, which was established in 1970. Beckert joined ACS in 1973.

After his retirement in 1997, Beckert served as a translator for the local court system. He was an avid hiker who loved wildlife and the West.

He is survived by his wife, Ursula; three children; and four grandchildren.


Jon W. Bouchard, 59, a Stahl Chemical executive, died on Jan. 29 following a long illness.

Born in Beverly, Mass., Bouchard earned an associates degree in chemistry from North Shore Community College. While finishing his degree, he began what would become a 40-year career with Stahl in Peabody, Mass., starting out as a laboratory technician, a technical sales representative, and a chemist there. He became technical director for the company's Paule Chemical arm in 1977, manager for upholstery leather products in 1983, and general manager of Stahl USA in 1991. He was then appointed president of Stahl's performance coatings division, a position he held until his death.

Bouchard is survived by a son, Jon; a daughter, Megan Bouchard; two grandchildren; his parents; and his former wives, Holly Bouchard, Sally McDonald, and Donna Bakoian.

Wayne L. Cody, 48, died in his sleep of natural causes on Nov. 10, 2007.

Born in Albany, N.Y., Cody received a B.S. degree from Allegheny College in 1981 and a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Arizona in 1985 under Victor J. Hruby.

Cody accepted positions at Eastman Kodak and Johnson & Johnson before moving to become a research fellow with Parke-Davis (which later became part of Pfizer) in 1990. In that role, he made important contributions to the design of endothelin receptor antagonists, which had important impacts in medicinal chemistry and drug design. He also made important contributions to the design and synthesis of cyclic inhibitors of thrombin and to the design of inhibitors in oncoproteins.

He was active in the American Peptide Society and served as an external reviewer or editorial board member for several journals. He was an ACS member, joining in 1981.

He is survived by his former wife, Donna R. Cody; his daughter, Katarina Cody; and his parents.

John W. Daly, 74, a National Institutes of Health scientist emeritus, died from complications of pancreatic cancer on March 5 in Rockville, Md.

Throughout his almost 50-year career at NIH, Daly "expanded the boundaries of chemistry and changed the course of research in pharmacology," Griffin P. Rodgers, director of NIH's National Institute of Diabetes & Digestive & Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), said in a statement. "John was an international leader in chemical and pharmacological research, especially in the fields of drug metabolism, biologically active natural products, and adenosine receptors," he added.

Born and raised in Portland, Ore., Daly received a bachelor's degree in biochemistry in 1954 and a master's degree in organic chemistry in 1955, both from Oregon State College. He earned a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Stanford University in 1958. That same year, he accepted a two-year postdoctoral appointment in NIH's Laboratory of Chemistry (in what is now NIDDK).

In 1960, Daly joined the NIH staff. From 1969 to 1978, he was chief of the pharmacodynamics section in the Laboratory of Chemistry. In 1978, Daly was appointed chief of the newly created Laboratory of Bioorganic Chemistry. He retired from NIH in 2003 but continued his research as a scientist emeritus in the Laboratory of Chemistry.

In 1997, Daly was elected to the National Academy of Sciences. He was an emeritus member of ACS, having joined 52 years ago.

He is survived by his life partner, Kathleen McKnight; her two children, Stephanie and Eugene; his daughters, Kathryn Daly and Shannon Ostrander; his sister, Hildred Powers; and four grandchildren.

Jon Chase photo

Jeremy R. Knowles, 72, a distinguished biochemist and champion for the sciences at Harvard University, died on April 3 after a prolonged struggle with prostate cancer.

Serving as dean of the Faculty of Arts & Sciences at Harvard from 1991 until 2002 and as interim dean in 2006–07, Knowles launched multiple cross-disciplinary initiatives to foster academic community. His tireless efforts reasserted Harvard's role as a leader in scientific innovation.

A professor of chemistry at Harvard for more than three decades, Knowles "was a wonderful, generous, and caring colleague," notes longtime Harvard colleague E. J. Corey, now a professor emeritus of chemistry. "It's fair to say that he was regarded by many as one of the world's most original and rigorous chemists working at the intersection of chemistry and biochemistry."

Born in Rugby, England, Knowles spent his formative years hiding intermittently in kitchens and cellars during the Blitz attacks of World War II. Following a stint as a pilot officer in the Royal Air Force, he attended the University of Oxford, where both his father and grandfather were professors. He graduated from Balliol College at Oxford, receiving a B.A. in 1959 and doctorate in 1961.

Before joining the Harvard faculty, Knowles was a fellow and tutor of Wadham College, Oxford. He also held a postdoctoral fellowship at California Institute of Technology and visiting professorships at both Yale University and Harvard. He joined Harvard as professor of chemistry in 1974 and was named Amory Houghton Professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry in 1979. He was chair of Harvard's department of chemistry and chemical biology from 1980 to 1983.

Knowles' work revolutionized the understanding of enzymes. He explored the physical organic basis for the specificity and rates of enzyme-catalyzed reactions, isolated and characterized enzyme-substrate reaction intermediates, and studied the stereochemical course of enzyme reactions and the evolution of protein function. He also tackled questions about the mechanism of bacterial resistance to β-lactam antibiotics such as penicillin.

Knowles was a recipient of many awards, including the ACS Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award in 1989, the Alfred Bader Award in 1989, the Repligen Corp. Award in Chemistry of Biological Processes in 1992, and the Nakanishi Prize in 1999. He was awarded the Davy Medal of the Royal Society in 1991 and the Welch Award in Chemistry in 1995. He was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire during the Queen's Birthday Honours of 1993.

He was a fellow of the Royal Society, the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society, as well as a foreign associate of the National Academy of Sciences. He also served as a trustee of Howard Hughes Medical Institute. An ACS member, Knowles joined in 1964.

Knowles is survived by his wife, Jane; their sons, Sebastian, Julius, and Timothy; and seven grandchildren.

Robert L. Pecsok, 88, professor emeritus at the University of Hawaii, died Aug. 19, 2007, in San Diego.

A native of Cleveland, Pecsok received a B.A. degree in chemistry in 1940 from Harvard University. During World War II, he served in the Pacific Theatre as a meteorological officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve. After the war, in 1946, Pecsok returned to Harvard to earn a Ph.D. in chemistry.

Pecsok began his academic career in 1948, joining the chemistry department at the University of California, Los Angeles. He taught there for 23 years, serving as vice chair of the department from 1965 until 1970.

In 1971, he moved to the University of Hawaii, where he served as chair of the department of chemistry from 1971 until 1979 and dean of the College of Natural Sciences from 1984 until 1991. He retired in 1991 as professor emeritus.

Pecsok was the author or coauthor of 55 scientific publications and several books. In 1969, Pecsok headed the American Chemical Society's ChemTeC project, a National Science Foundation endeavor aimed at training chemical technicians at two-year colleges.

Pecsok was a Guggenheim fellow in 1956, an ACS International fellow in 1963, and an American Association for the Advancement of Science fellow in 1967. In 1970, he received the Tolman Award from the ACS Southern California Section in recognition of outstanding contributions to chemistry. An emeritus member of ACS, Pecsok joined in 1948.

Pecsok is survived by his wife, Marcella; seven children; nine grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. His first wife, Mary, died in 1996.

J. Reid Shelton, 96, professor emeritus of chemistry and macromolecular science at Case Western Reserve University, died on Dec. 31, 2007, in Cleveland.

Born in Allerton, Iowa, Shelton started his education in a one-room schoolhouse and attended a small high school that did not offer a chemistry course. Still, he went on to study chemistry, earning a B.S. in 1933, an M.S. in 1934, and a Ph.D. in 1936, all at the State University of Iowa, Iowa City.

After finishing his education, Shelton immediately moved to Cleveland to begin his 41-year teaching career with Case School of Applied Science, which is now Case Western Reserve University.

Shelton's research on synthetic rubber was particularly important during World War II when natural rubber was in short supply. He led fundamental studies of the reactions occurring in the oxidation, degradation, and stabilization of rubber and other polymers. At various times throughout his career, he received support from Firestone, Goodyear, the Petroleum Research Fund, the U.S. Army Ordnance Research, and other government agencies.

Along with Melvin J. Astle, Shelton wrote the college textbook "Organic Chemistry" in 1953. He retired from the university in 1977.

In 1983, Shelton received the Charles Goodyear Medal from the ACS Rubber Division in recognition of his contributions to the science and technology of rubber. He was an emeritus member of ACS, having joined in 1936.

Shelton is survived by three children, Margaret Snyder, James Shelton, and Patricia Nierode; six grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren. Shelton's wife, Leah, predeceased him.


Joan E. Shields, 73, a professor emerita and former chair of the chemistry department at the C. W. Post Campus of Long Island University, in New York, died suddenly on April 10.

Throughout her career, Shields held many key leadership positions in ACS governance. She was an ACS Board member from 1995 to 2002 and served as chair of the board from 1996 to 1998. She was a member or chair of dozens of ACS committees, governing boards, and task forces, and at the time of her death, she was a member of the Board Committee on Audits and the Committee on Pensions & Investments. "Joan was a remarkable teacher, mentor, and friend," says ACS Executive Director and CEO Madeleine Jacobs. "She had a profound influence on ACS through her many years of dedicated service and on all of the people who knew her and had the good fortune to work with her."

Born in Cambridge, Mass., Shields earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry from Regis College in Weston, Mass., a master's in chemistry from Tufts University in Boston, and a Ph.D. from Boston College. An organic chemist, she was awarded a postdoctoral fellowship at the Max Planck Institute in Mulheim, Germany.

Shields joined the faculty of C. W. Post as an assistant professor of chemistry in 1968 and became a full professor in 1974. She served as chair of the chemistry department there from 1987 until her retirement from teaching in 2007. Shields remained involved at C. W. Post after her retirement, working closely with freshmen and serving as chair of the Pre-Health Professions Advisement Committee.

Shields authored four books and 34 scientific papers. She was a member of the board of directors of the Chemical Heritage Foundation and an emeritus member of ACS, which she joined in 1957.


She is survived by a sister, Irene Peters; a nephew, Michael Alfano, whom she raised after her sister, Lorraine Alfano, died; and a grandnephew, Hunter Alfano. Her husband, Jan Kopecky, died of cancer in 1992.

Obituaries are written by Susan J. Ainsworth. Obituary notices may be sent to and should include detailed educational and professional history.


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