Texas A&M University Distinguished Professor of Chemistry Dr. Donald J. Darensbourg has been elected as a 2019 member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one the country’s oldest and most prestigious honorary learned societies.
Darensbourg, an organometallic/inorganic chemist and 37-year veteran of the Texas A&M faculty, is one of the more than 200 new members and foreign honorary members announced by the Academy today (April 17). Drawn from the sciences, the arts and humanities, business, public affairs and the non-profit sector, these scholars, scientists, writers, artists, civic, corporate and philanthropic leaders are chosen for their compelling achievements in academia, business, government and public affairs.
“One of the reasons to honor extraordinary achievement is because the pursuit of excellence is so often accompanied by disappointment and self-doubt,” said David W. Oxtoby, President of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. “We are pleased to recognize the excellence of our new members, celebrate their compelling accomplishments, and invite them to join the Academy and contribute to its work.”
The American Academy was founded in 1780 by John Adams, James Bowdoin and others who believed the new republic should honor exceptionally accomplished individuals and engage them in advancing the public good. Its dual mission remains essentially the same 239 years later, with honorees from increasingly diverse fields and with the work now focused on the arts, democracy, education, global affairs and science.
Each year more than 1,300 nominations are considered for election to the Academy, with fewer than 250 earning selection.
“While the work of this class includes areas never imagined in 1780 — such as cultural studies, cybersecurity, disease ecology, nanotechnology, paleoclimatology and superconductivity — the members of the class of 2019 embody the founders’ vision of cultivating knowledge that advances, in their words, a ‘free, virtuous and independent people,'” said Nancy C. Andrews, Chair of the American Academy Board of Directors.
Don Darensbourg discusses professorial legacies and the lifelong impact of quality mentors in a recent episode of I Am Texas A&M Science:
Darensbourg joins Dr. Karen L. Wooley, distinguished professor of chemistry (2015), Dr. George F. Bass, distinguished professor emeritus of nautical archaeology (2012), Dr. Marcetta Y. Darensbourg, distinguished professor of chemistry (2011), Dr. Marlan O. Scully, distinguished professor of physics and astronomy (2008), Dr. Ronald A. DeVore, distinguished professor of mathematics (2001), Dr. Robert C. Kennicutt Jr., professor of physics and astronomy (2001) and Dr. David M. Lee, professor of physics and astronomy (1990) as current Texas A&M faculty members featured in the eminent society. One of Darensbourg’s longtime colleagues, the late Texas A&M inorganic chemist Dr. F. Albert Cotton, ranks as the university’s inaugural honoree, earning election in 1962.
“Don’s colleagues and I are extremely delighted that he has been honored by election into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences,” said Dr. Simon W. North, professor and head of the Texas A&M Department of Chemistry. “He is a pillar of the department, a leader in the field of inorganic chemistry, an outstanding teacher and a wonderful mentor.”
Darensbourg joined the Texas A&M Chemistry faculty in 1982 and was appointed as a distinguished professor of chemistry in 2010. He is a noted expert in the mechanisms of organometallic reactions — in particular, carbon dioxide insertion into hydrogen-, carbon- and oxygen-metal bonds. His work has led to the synthesis of biodegradable polymers for use in medical devices, including surgical sutures, internal fixation devices for repair of fractures to small bones, drug-delivery devices and dental implants.
Darensbourg’s research funded by the National Science Foundation and the Robert A. Welch Foundation spans transition and main-group metals, homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysis — including polymerization and biphasic processes — and applications of infrared spectroscopy. To date, he has more than 400 scholarly publications to his credit, many of which are featured in the most highly ranked international journals in the field, such as the Journal of the American Chemical Society, Angewandte Chemie and Macromolecules.
A 2017 fellow of the American Chemical Society (ACS), Darensbourg’s many career awards include the 2010 ACS Award in Inorganic Chemistry, the 2016 Texas A&M College of Science Undergraduate Mentoring Award and Texas A&M Association of Former Students Distinguished Achievement Awards in both Teaching (1988) and Research (1990). Most recently on March 30 in Orlando, Darensbourg and his student, Tucker Folsom ’19, were presented with the 2019 ACS Division of Inorganic Chemistry Award for Undergraduate Research recognizing the collaborative work of an outstanding undergraduate student/preceptor team in the field of inorganic chemistry.
A past member of five editorial boards, Darensbourg consistently is called upon to serve on advisory and review teams and to lecture at conferences and research institutions all around the world. His ACS service alone includes past treasurer of the Division of Inorganic Chemistry and a former member of the Committee on Professional Training.
“Rarely do we come across a more honest and wise scientist,” said 2011 Academy Fellow Dr. Marcetta Y. Darensbourg, a fellow Texas A&M distinguished professor of chemistry as well as his wife. “I have valued his judgement and advice throughout life. I am very proud of him, and this recognition has been long deserved, for sure.”
Darensbourg will be officially inducted as an Academy Fellow at an October ceremony at the Academy’s headquarters in Cambridge, Mass. His fellow 2019 class members include poet and Andrew W. Mellon Foundation president Elizabeth Alexander; chemical and biological engineer Kristi S. Anseth; artist Mark Bradford; gender theorist Judith Butler; economist Xiaohong Chen; academic leader and former Governor Mitchell E. Daniels Jr.; neuro-oncologist Robert B. Darnell; The Atlantic journalist James M. Fallows; author Jonathan Franzen; cell biologist Jennifer Lippincott-Schwartz; data science and McKinsey & Company technology expert James Manyika; former First Lady Michelle Obama; Cisco Systems business leader Charles H. Robbins; mathematician Sylvia Serfaty; philosopher Tommie Shelby; actress and playwright Anna Deavere Smith; and paleoclimatologist Lonnie G. Thompson.
To learn more about Darensbourg and his research, teaching and service, go to http://www.chem.tamu.edu/rgroup/djd/.
For more information on the Academy as well as a list of new and current members, visit http://www.amacad.org.
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Contact: Shana K. Hutchins, (979) 862-1237 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Dr. Donald J. Darensbourg, (979) 845-5417 or email@example.com