Texas A&M University Regents Professor of Chemistry and Cyclotron Institute Director Dr. Sherry J. Yennello has been selected as the 2021 recipient of the American Chemical Society (ACS) Glenn T. Seaborg Award for Nuclear Chemistry, sponsored by the ACS Division of Nuclear Chemistry and Technology.
Established in 1955 in tribute to 1951 Nobel Prize in Chemistry recipient Glenn T. Seaborg, who discovered plutonium and helped add several other radioactive superheavy elements to the periodic table, the award recognizes and encourages research accomplishment in nuclear and radiochemistry or their applications. Previous Texas A&M recipients include Distinguished Professors Dr. Joseph B. Natowitz (1995), a former Cyclotron Institute director (1991-2003) and a former head of the Texas A&M Department of Chemistry (1982-1985), as well as Dr. Ronald D. Macfarlane (1989).
Yennello, an internationally renowned nuclear chemist and expert in heavy-ion reactions who holds the Bright Chair in Nuclear Science at Texas A&M, is among the roughly 60 primarily North American chemists unveiled as ACS Award winners in the August 13 issue of Chemical & Engineering News. She is cited “for innovative and illuminating research on the role of the N/Z degree of freedom on dynamics and equilibration in nuclear reactions.”
Yennello will be presented with her award, which includes $5,000 and a commemorative certificate, in conjunction with the ACS 2021 Spring National Meeting, set for March 21-25 in San Antonio.
“I’m very honored to have been selected for this prestigious award, which would not have been possible without the fantastic students, postdocs and collaborators as well as the excellent staff at the Cyclotron Institute with whom I have had the privilege of working for many years,” Yennello said.
Yennello joined the Texas A&M Department of Chemistry faculty in 1993 after serving as a postdoctoral fellow at Michigan State University (1991-1992) and earning her Ph.D. from Indiana University in 1990. Since 2014, she has served as director of Texas A&M’s world-class Cyclotron Institute, where her research focuses on the nuclear equation-of-state and heavy-ion reactions. From 2004 to 2014, she was an associate dean in the College of Science with oversight for various areas ranging from diversity and college climate to faculty affairs.
DID YOU KNOW: Glenn T. Seaborg, in tandem with 1960 Nobel Prize in Chemistry recipient and 1956 ACS Seaborg Award recipient Willard F. Libby, visited the Texas A&M campus on December 4, 1967, to help dedicate the Texas A&M Cyclotron Institute — three days after it had achieved its first external cyclotron-accelerated particle beam, thanks to a 400-ton, 2,000-kilowatt magnet whose power was equivalent to one-fifth of the output of the Texas A&M Power Plant at the time. Twenty years later, that original K150 cyclotron was joined by a K500 that currently is one of only five K500 or larger superconducting cyclotrons in existence worldwide. Seaborg made his last visit to Texas A&M in March 1998, delivering three lectures in the Department of Chemistry, touring the Cyclotron Institute, autographing a copy of the periodic table as the first living scientist to have an element — seaborgium, or Sg — named in his honor, and meeting with various research groups, including Yennello’s, during his time in Aggieland. He passed away on February 25, 1999, roughly two months shy of his 87th birthday.
In addition to being a principal investigator for four prior major National Science Foundation grants — including Texas A&M’s ADVANCE Center for Women Faculty — totaling more than $7.3 million in funding to benefit STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) education and outreach, Yennello is principal investigator for an $11.7 million Cyclotron-based nuclear science Center of Excellence funded through the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science as well as a $10 million Center for Excellence in Nuclear Training And University-based Research (CENTAUR), a six-institution collaboration funded through the DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE/NNSA).
Yennello’s pioneering example as an instructor, research scientist, administrator, and mentor to faculty and students — particularly women and minorities — is equally respected at Texas A&M and in national and international professional circles. As the inaugural associate dean for diversity in Texas A&M Science, Yennello led a National Science Foundation-funded SSTEM program to build a bridge from Palo Alto College to Texas A&M. Within ADVANCE, she coordinated a university-wide NSF-funded effort to improve the climate for STEM women faculty. As Cyclotron Institute director, she has increased DOE support by more than 60 percent. In addition, Yennello was architect and co-chair of an NSF-funded Gender Equity Conversation effort and a co-coordinator of the 2012 South Central Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics hosted by Texas A&M, which also hosted one of a dozen regional CUWiP events in 2020. Most recently, she was selected as one of three Team Leaders for the United States Delegation to the 7th IUPAP International Conference on Women in Physics (ICWIP 2020), which was postponed due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
A University Faculty Fellow, Yennello is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2012), the American Chemical Society (2011) and the American Physical Society (2005). Her many awards include the Texas A&M Association of Former Students Distinguished Achievement Award for Administration (2019), the ACS’s Francis P. Garvan-John M. Olin Medal (2011), the Texas A&M Women’s Faculty Network Outstanding Mentor Award (2010), the Texas A&M Association of Former Students Distinguished Achievement Award in Teaching at both the university and college levels (2012 and 2008, respectively), the Sigma Xi National Young Investigator Award (2000), the NSF Young Investigator Award (1994), the Oak Ridge Junior Faculty Enhancement Award (1993) and the General Electric Faculty for the Future Award (1993).
For more information about Yennello and her research, teaching and service at Texas A&M, visit http://www.chem.tamu.edu/faculty/yennello.
# # # # # # # # # #
About Research at Texas A&M University: As one of the world’s leading research institutions, Texas A&M is at the forefront in making significant contributions to scholarship and discovery, including that of science and technology. Research conducted at Texas A&M represented annual expenditures of more than $952 million in fiscal year 2019. Texas A&M ranked in the top 20 of the National Science Foundation’s most recent Higher Education Research and Development survey (2018), based on expenditures of more than $922 million in fiscal year 2018. Texas A&M’s research creates new knowledge that provides basic, fundamental and applied contributions resulting, in many cases, in economic benefits to the state, nation and world. To learn more, visit [email protected] A&M.