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Robert E. McCarley

by Susan J. Ainsworth
January 26, 2015 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 93, Issue 4

Photo of Robert E. McCarley.

Robert E. McCarley, 83, professor of chemistry emeritus at Iowa State University in Ames, died on Aug. 19, 2014, in Des Moines, Iowa.

Born in Denison, Texas, McCarley received a B.S. degree in chemistry in 1953 and a Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry in 1956, both from the University of Texas, Austin.

After one year as a postdoc at what is now the Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory, he became an assistant professor at Iowa State and an associate chemist at the laboratory. He was named a professor of chemistry at Iowa State in 1970 and served as chair of the chemistry department from 1973 until 1977.

Additionally, he was a visiting professor from 1977 until 1978 and guest scientist in 1993 at the Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research in Stuttgart, Germany.

Publishing well over 100 research articles and presenting scientific lectures all over the world, McCarley made a major impact on synthetic inorganic solid-state chemistry and the metal cluster chemistry of molybdenum, tungsten, niobium, and tantalum. He maintained an active research program until his retirement in 1996.

McCarley was an emeritus member of ACS, joining in 1955.

He received the Award for Outstanding Scientific Accomplishment from the Department of Energy in 1990 and two awards from Iowa State: the Teaching Excellence Award in 1991 and the Regents Award for Faculty Excellence in 1995.

McCarley is survived by his wife of 62 years, Jenna; his son, Carl; daughters, Kyanne Danowsky, Maura Torkildson, and Tonia; five grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by a granddaughter.

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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