Issue Date: May 21, 2012
Robert W. Murray
Robert W. Murray, 83, Curators’ Professor of Chemistry Emeritus at the University of Missouri, St. Louis, died on March 13.
Born in Brockton, Mass., Murray received an A.B. in chemistry in 1951 from Brown University, an M.A. in chemistry in 1956 from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn., and a Ph.D. in chemistry in 1960 from Yale University under Martin Saunders.
He served in the Navy from 1951 until 1954 before joining the Navy Reserve as a lieutenant commander.
Murray joined the University of Missouri, St. Louis, faculty in 1968 after working as a researcher at AT&T Bell Laboratories for 10 years. At the university, Murray taught organic chemistry and served as chair of the chemistry department from 1975 to 1980. He became Curators’ Professor in 1981 and retired in 1999. During his career, he also served as a visiting scholar in Karlsruhe, Germany, and Cork, Ireland.
Credited with 175 research articles, Murray was well-known for his research in the area of oxidation chemistry involving ozone, singlet oxygen, hydrotrioxides, and dioxiranes. While at Bell Labs, Murray studied the mechanisms by which atmospheric oxidants, including ozone, degrade materials that cover telephone wire.
Later, he helped demonstrate the relevance of oxidation chemistry to environmental and health issues. More recently, he devised an experimental procedure for producing a solution of dimethyldioxiranes, referred to as Murray’s reagent, which is now a widely used reagent.
Murray received numerous awards, including the ACS St. Louis Award in 1974, the ACS Midwest Award in 1989, the University of Missouri President’s Award for Research & Creativity in 1990, the I. H. Weldon Medal of the Canadian Pulp & Paper Association in 1994, and the Peter H. Raven Lifetime Award from the St. Louis Academy of Science in 2001. He was an emeritus member of ACS, joining in 1951 and serving as councilor for the St. Louis Section from 1977 until 1985.
He is survived by his wife of more than 60 years, Claire; six children; 15 grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.
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