Donald B. Denney | November 9, 2009 Issue - Vol. 87 Issue 45 | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 87 Issue 45 | p. 49 | Obituaries
Issue Date: November 9, 2009

Donald B. Denney

Department: ACS News
Keywords: Obituaries, People

Donald B. Denney, 82, a professor emeritus of chemistry at Rutgers University, died on Sept. 13 in Highland Park, N.J.

Born in Seattle, Denney received a B.S. in chemistry from the University of Washington in 1949 and a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1952 under the direction of D. S. Noyce.

After a year at DuPont, Denney spent a postdoctoral year at Yale University working with William von E. Doering. He then accepted an instructorship at Yale that lasted from 1954 to 1955, after which he joined the faculty of Rutgers University as an assistant professor. He became professor there in 1962 and retired as professor emeritus in 1996.

Denney’s research focused on mechanisms of organic reactions and phosphorus chemistry. He was an early exponent of the use of isotopic tracers, which he elegantly exploited to elucidate chemical reaction pathways. He also pioneered the use of 31P magnetic resonance techniques to reveal the structures and mechanistic details of reactions involving hypervalent organophosphorus systems. Denney’s work resulted in 150 scientific publications.

He was an Alfred P. Sloan Fellow from 1955 to 1959 and a member of the National Institutes of Health Committee on Medicinal Chemistry. Denny was an emeritus member of ACS, joining in 1950.

He is survived by his wife, Dorothy, who was a coinvestigator and coauthor on numerous joint publications.


Susan J. Ainsworth writes obituaries. Obituary notices may be sent to and should include a detailed educational and professional history.

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