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Paul F. Barbara

by Susan J. Ainsworth
November 22, 2010 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 88, Issue 47

Paul F. Barbara, 57, a prominent chemistry professor at the University of Texas, Austin, died on Oct. 31 from complications after cardiac arrest.

Barbara grew up in New York City and received a B.S. in chemistry at Hofstra University in 1974. He completed a Ph.D. at Brown University in 1978 and carried out postdoctoral studies at Bell Laboratories.

Barbara was a faculty member for 18 years at the University of Minnesota before joining UT Austin’s department of chemistry and biochemistry in 1998. At UT Austin, he held the Richard J. V. Johnson Welch Regents Chair in Chemistry.

Barbara’s recent research focused on the arrangement of individual polymer molecules. His group aimed to better understand molecular behavior in complex environments such as plastic solar cells. During his career, he published more than 200 journal articles.

In 2000, Barbara founded the university’s Center for Nano & Molecular Science & Technology. He later steered a campaign to build the $37 million Nano Science & Technology Building (now the Larry R. Faulkner Nano Science & Technology Building). In 2009, he led a team of UT Austin faculty members that was awarded $13 million by the Department of Energy to study the fundamental chemical processes that limit the efficiency of plastic solar-cell materials.

Barbara received many awards, including a Presidential Young Investigator Award in 1984 and ACS’s E. Bright Wilson Award in Spectroscopy in 2009.

He was an ACS member, having joined in 1976. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences. For 15 years, he was senior editor of Accounts of Chemical Research.

Barbara is survived by his wife, Sharon; son, Jason; daughter, Juliet; and three grandchildren.



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