Gabbaï, a member of the Department of Chemistry, is a global leader in synthetic inorganic chemistry and one of the world’s top experts in the diverse field of main group chemistry — an inorganic-centric portion of the periodic table that spans transition metals and inert gases. He is widely credited with seminal contributions that have transformed the field of anion recognition — a topic that carries wide-ranging societal implications, from drinking water analysis and environmental monitoring, to cancer imaging and the development of cures for diseases triggered by anion transport dysregulation. Gabbaï also is credited with groundbreaking contributions to the redox chemistry of main group elements, which he has exploited for the development of catalysts for the activation of unsaturated hydrocarbons derived from oil.
Gabbaï earns recognition along with six additional Texas A&M faculty as the latest recipients of the coveted title: Dr. Roger E. Howe, professor in the Department of Teaching, Learning and Culture within the College of Education and Human Development who also holds a joint appointment in the Department of Mathematics; Dr. Valerie M. Hudson, professor in the Department of International Affairs within The Bush School of Government and Public Service; Dr. Richard Miles, professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering within the College of Engineering; Dr. Dorothy Shippen, professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics within the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences; Dr. Jörg M. Steiner, professor in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences within the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences; and Dr. Kirk O. Winemiller, professor in the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences within the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
The 2019 university distinguished professor honorees join a select group of nearly 90 current faculty members who hold the prestigious title — 34 of whom are affiliated with the College of Science. The title, which is bestowed in perpetuity, identifies faculty members who are pre-eminent in their fields and have made at least one landmark contribution to their disciplines. Their work is considered central to any narrative of the field and widely recognized to have changed its direction of scholarship. Past recipients of the lifetime title participate in the selection process, growing the ranks of distinguished professors by just a handful of scholars each year.
“University Distinguished Professors earn our highest faculty honor by impacting the world with their scholarship and landmark advances in understanding,” said Dr. Carol A. Fierke, provost and executive vice president. “These faculty represent the high caliber and global significance of research underway at Texas A&M University.”
Gabbaï and his fellow 2019 honorees will be recognized at a May 8 induction ceremony and reception jointly hosted by the Offices of the President and Provost to celebrate all faculty who are distinguished professors.
Gabbaï joined the Texas A&M faculty in 1998 and served as head of Texas A&M Chemistry from October 2014 to January 2016. Prior to being appointed to the Martell Chair in spring 2014, he had served as a Davidson Professor of Science and a joint holder of the Davidson Chair in Science since 2008. He is the ninth chemistry professor to be appointed as a university distinguished professor, joining Dr. Abraham Clearfield (2007), Dr. Kim R. Dunbar (2007), Dr. John A. Gladysz (2008), Dr. Donald J. Darensbourg (2010), Dr. Marcetta Y. Darensbourg (2010), Dr. Frank M. Raushel (2010), Dr. Tadhg P. Begley (2011) and Dr. Karen L. Wooley (2011) in so representing his profession across the campus.
In addition to revitalizing a branch of chemistry that has been neglected for the greater part of a century, Gabbaï’s investigations have resulted in the recognition of heretofore unknown bonding modes (a foundational theme in chemistry), light-driven transformations of main group compounds (a key methodology for green chemistry) and novel approaches to brightly emissive supramolecules (broad application in producing light-emitting diodes, such as those powering flat-screen displays).
“François has certainly made major impact that is central to any narrative of the field, especially with his leadership in applying fundamental concepts of molecular structure and chemical bonding to problems at the forefront of molecular recognition,” said National Academy of Sciences member Dr. Christopher C. Cummins, Henry Dreyfus Professor of Chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a 2016-17 Faculty Fellow in the Hagler Institute for Advanced Study at Texas A&M. “His incredibly creative and innovative work produces advances that are of value for the scientific breakthroughs they represent and also for their pedagogy as he teaches our community how to move the field forward by leaps and bounds. I am delighted that he has been put forward for this immensely well-deserved recognition, in order that he may be appreciated within the Texas A&M community as the intellectual leader he is, considering the heights he has achieved globally in his chosen field of expertise.”
A prolific researcher and author, Gabbaï has published nearly 250 papers in peer-reviewed journals based on his research that is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) and the Robert A. Welch Foundation, among others. A fellow of the American Chemical Society (ACS) and the Royal Society of Chemistry, his work has been recognized with several prestigious awards, including the 2016 ACS F. Albert Cotton Award in Synthetic Inorganic Chemistry, the 2009 North American Dalton Lectureship and a 2001 NSF Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award. Later this month, he will be presented with a 2019 Texas A&M Association of Former Students Distinguished Achievement Award in Research.
“François Gabbaï is a world leader in the field of main group inorganic chemistry who has made seminal contributions in areas of electron-deficient Lewis acids as chemical sensors, phosphorescence materials and fluorine 18 radiotracers,” said Dr. Simon W. North, professor and head of Texas A&M Chemistry. “In addition to his scholarly achievements, François has made significant contributions to both the Department of Chemistry and Texas A&M University, and he continues to be one of the most service-oriented members of our faculty.”
In particular, North notes that Gabbaï has played a critical role in advancing mass spectrometry capabilities at Texas A&M. He recently provided oversight for $5 million in Chancellor’s Research Initiative (CRI) funding that has resulted in the creation of the Texas A&M Mass Spectrometry Collaborative Core involving 10 individual facilities across the campus and the acquisition of new instruments and additional staff positions in several of these facilities.
An in-demand plenary speaker at international conferences, Gabbaï served as the inaugural James A. Ibers Summer Inorganic Lecturer at Northwestern University as well as the third annual Anton B. Burg Memorial Lecturer at the University of Southern California in summer 2017, followed by the Peter C. Reilly Lecturer at the University of Notre Dame and the Lappert Lecturer in Warwick, UK in spring 2018.
Earlier this month, Gabbaï concluded eight years of service as an associate editor for Organometallics by becoming an associate editor for Chemical Science. He is also an editorial board member for Chemistry Select and Chem.
Gabbaï earned his doctorate in chemistry from the University of Texas at Austin in 1994 and completed postdoctoral work at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) under concurrent Alexander von Humboldt and Marie Curie Fellowships. Prior to coming to Texas, he studied at the University of Bordeaux, France, earning his bachelor’s of science degree in chemistry in 1990.
To learn more about Gabbaï and his teaching, research and professional service accomplishments, visit http://www.chem.tamu.edu/faculty/gabbai.
See the complete list of distinguished professors at Texas A&M.
Contact: Shana K. Hutchins, (979) 862-1237 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Dr. François P. Gabbaï, (979) 862-2070 or email@example.com