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Sally Chapman

by Susan J. Ainsworth
October 8, 2012 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 90, ISSUE 41

Credit: Flora Davidson
Credit: Flora Davidson

Sally Chapman, 65, professor of chemistry at Barnard College in New York City, died on June 2 after a 10-month battle with renal cell carcinoma.

Born in Philadelphia, Chapman received an A.B. summa cum laude in chemistry in 1968 from Smith College and a Ph.D. in physical chemistry in 1973 from Yale University. She then worked as a postdoctoral research associate, first at the University of California, Irvine, and then at UC Berkeley.

Chapman joined the Barnard faculty as an assistant professor in 1975, becoming an associate professor in 1981 and a professor in 1986. She served as the Ann Whitney Olin Professor from 1989 until 1994. She also served as Barnard’s chemistry department chair for 12 years.

During her 37 years on the Barnard faculty, she taught general chemistry and also mentored thousands of students and many colleagues. A passionate advocate for women in science, Chapman was a fellow of the Association of Women in Science and was a founding member of the Committee on the Advancement of Women Chemists.

She was a member of ACS for 38 years, joining in 1974. She served as chair of the ACS Committee on Professional Training and also served on the board of the ACS Petroleum Research Fund. Chapman was named an ACS Fellow this year.

She received the Barnard College Excellence in Teaching Award in 2009 and the Barnard Medal of Distinction—the college’s highest honor—earlier this year.

She loved the outdoors and spent summers at Pocono Lake Preserve, where she cochaired the local library committee.

Chapman is survived by her mother, Gwen; brother, William; and sisters, Diana Chapman Walsh and Marie Chapman Carroll. Her father, Robert, predeceased her.

Obituary notices of no more than 300 words may be sent to Susan J. Ainsworth at and should include an educational and professional history.



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