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ACS Award For Distinguished Service In The Advancement Of Inorganic Chemistry

by Glenn Hess
January 12, 2015 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 93, Issue 2

Credit: Jim Lyle/Texas A&M
Mug of Kim R. Dunbar.
Credit: Jim Lyle/Texas A&M

Sponsored by Strem Chemicals

Texas A&M University chemistry professor Kim R. Dunbar is described by her colleagues as an extraordinarily talented and creative inorganic chemist who has made enduring contributions to her field through her teaching, mentorship, leadership, and research endeavors.

“She stands as an exemplary role model for young women who aspire to academic positions in chemistry,” says Jeffrey R. Long, a colleague of more than 15 years who teaches inorganic chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley.

Dunbar, an international expert in synthetic and physical inorganic chemistry, is the second female recipient of ACS’s top award for inorganic chemistry in its 51-year history—the first being fellow Texas A&M chemistry professor Marcetta Y. Darensbourg in 1995.

“I am highly honored to receive this award,” Dunbar says. “The many excellent students, postdocs, and coworkers who have contributed to the success of my research program share this award with me.”

Her research in synthetic and structural inorganic chemistry is focused on using the principles of coordination chemistry to solve diverse problems ranging from the development of new magnetic and conducting materials to the creation of anticancer agents.

Coordination chemistry, which encompasses the fundamental underpinnings of inorganic chemistry, is a vital field from which many applications have emerged, including new types of functional materials, Dunbar says.

“Our research over the past few decades has unearthed fascinating examples of magnetic and conducting coordination compounds, both molecular and extended architectures, and, importantly, it has provided a wonderful vehicle for the training of students at the cutting edge of interdisciplinary science,” she remarks.

François P. Gabbaï, head of the department of chemistry at Texas A&M, says Dunbar has “advanced the topic of coordination chemistry in modern inorganic chemistry” and has inspired young scientists both in academia and industry.

“I have been passionate about inorganic chemistry since I was an undergraduate, and I could not imagine another career,” Dunbar says. “I deeply admire the previous recipients of the award, all of whom set the bar very high for all of us in inorganic chemistry and inspired me greatly.”

Dunbar, 56, received her Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry from Purdue University in 1984 and carried out postdoctoral research at Texas A&M. She joined the chemistry faculty at Texas A&M in 1999 after serving a number of years on the faculty at Michigan State University.

In 2004, Dunbar was named a Davidson Professor of Science and a joint holder of the Davidson Chair in Science, meriting particular distinction as the first female chair holder in the College of Science. In 2007, she was named a Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, Texas A&M’s highest academic faculty rank.

A 2011 ACS Fellow, Dunbar has been honored with an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellowship, a Camille & Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award, and fellowships in both the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Institute of Chemists.

She is also a two-time recipient of the Texas A&M Association of Former Students Distinguished Achievement Award, having received the inaugural award for graduate mentoring in 2006 and another in research in 2012. In 2012, she earned the first Texas A&M Women Former Students’ Network Eminent Scholar Award.

Dunbar will present the award address before the Division of Inorganic Chemistry.


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