Dr. Marcetta Darensbourg, Distinguished Professor of Chemistry at Texas A&M University, has been named the 2018 SEC Professor of the Year, SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey announced on Wednesday (April 11). Darensbourg is the first faculty member from Texas A&M to win the honor.
Darensbourg, an internationally respected expert in synthetic and mechanistic inorganic chemistry, is a Kentucky native and a global leader in developing methods to enable sustainable hydrogen-powered fuel cell technology. She joined the Texas A&M faculty in 1982 as a member of the Department of Chemistry and was appointed a distinguished professor of chemistry in 2010 and as a Davidson Professor of Science in 2017. Her research focuses on biology-inspired chemistry and the search for inexpensive, eco-friendly alternative energy options.
“Marcetta Darensbourg exemplifies all that we hope and expect a faculty member to be in the Southeastern Conference,” Sankey said. “She has dedicated her career to conducting transformative research while maintaining a firm commitment to instructing students at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. We are pleased to bestow upon her our highest faculty honor.”
Darensbourg, who teaches courses in organometallic and inorganic chemistry, has directed the dissertations of more than 50 students during her 30 years in College Station. She has received nearly every teaching and student mentoring award offered by the university, including several Texas A&M Association of Former Students Distinguished Achievement Awards.
In addition, Darensbourg has earned numerous awards recognizing her research. She was the first woman to receive the American Chemical Society (ACS) Distinguished Service in the Advancement of Inorganic Chemistry Award, the society’s top annual honor in this realm. She is an inaugural Fellow of the ACS as well as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Most recently in 2017, she was elected to the National Academy of Sciences.
“All of us at Texas A&M are thrilled that Dr. Darensbourg is being recognized by the Southeastern Conference for her contributions to the academy and the world,” said Texas A&M President Michael K. Young. “She is an exceptional scientist and professor who has greatly enriched the lives and careers of her students and trainees. She is an extraordinary representative of the SEC and of Texas A&M.”
The SEC Professor of the Year Award has been given annually since 2012 to one SEC faculty member whose record of teaching and research places him or her among the elite in higher education. Winners are selected by the SEC Provosts from among the 14 SEC Faculty Achievement Award recipients. In recognition of the honor, the SEC will provide Darensbourg with a $20,000 honorarium, and she will be formally presented during the SEC Awards Dinner in May.
“Marcetta Darensbourg is the epitome of an exceptional scholar, from the lab bench to the classroom,” said Dr. Meigan Aronson, dean of the College of Science. “Her commitment to excellence in both her intellect and her pursuit of new knowledge is evidenced in the success of her research program and her students, not to mention her generosity of spirit as personified through her thoughtful leadership within her department, college, university and broader profession.”
The SEC Faculty Achievement and SEC Professor of the Year Awards are foundational programs designed by the SEC to support and promote the academic endeavors and achievements of its students, faculty and administrators.
Darensbourg credits her successes to her Aggie colleagues and coworkers — chiefly, her 50-year partnership with her husband and fellow inorganic chemist Dr. Donald Darensbourg — and to a long fruitful collaboration with Texas A&M computational chemist Dr. Michael B. Hall.
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