Dr. Marcetta Y. Darensbourg, distinguished professor of chemistry at Texas A&M University, has been selected as the 2017 recipient of the American Chemical Society (ACS) Award in Organometallic Chemistry.

The award, established in 1983 by The Dow Chemical Company Foundation, recognizes a recent advancement that is having a major impact on research in organometallic chemistry. Previous Texas A&M recipients include the late Dr. F. Albert Cotton (2001) and Dr. John A. Gladysz (1994).

Darensbourg, an internationally respected expert in synthetic and mechanistic inorganic chemistry, is cited "for insight and application of the fundamental principles of organometallic chemistry to hydrogenase enzyme active sites and synthetic analogues as foundational bioorganometallic molecules."

"I am elated that Marcetta has been recognized for her significant contributions to the field of organometallic chemistry," said Dr. Simon W. North, professor and head of the Texas A&M Department of Chemistry. "She is a paragon; a rare faculty member who has been honored for excellence in teaching, mentoring, service and research during her career. We are so fortunate to have her as a colleague, and we congratulate her on this most recent achievement."

Darensbourg is among roughly 70 primarily North American chemists unveiled as ACS Award winners in the August 22 issue of Chemical & Engineering News. She will be presented with her award, which includes $5,000 and a commemorative certificate, next spring at the 253rd ACS National Meeting, scheduled for April 2-6, 2017, in San Francisco.

A member of the Texas A&M Chemistry faculty since 1982, Darensbourg is a leader in the development of methods to perfect hydrogen-powered fuel cell technology. Her lab specializes in the novel approach of introducing Earth-abundant elements -- iron, nickel and sulfur -- into hydrogen-producing molecular catalysts intended to replace platinum as the kick-starter in these fuel cells.

"Marcetta's excellent work has had a profound impact by extending organometallic chemistry from the familiar confines of catalysis into the bio-arena -- a domain where most classically trained organometallic chemists, previously, dare not venture," said Dr. Gregory H. Robinson, Foundation Distinguished Research Professor of Chemistry at the University of Georgia, who served as her nominator. "By careful study of synthetic analogues of the nickel-iron and diiron hydrogenase active sites, she has significantly contributed to the understanding of the spectroscopic signals that are characteristic of the hydrogenase enzymes. Marcetta is now recognized by the biological scientists as a primary resource in hydrogenase chemistry."

Darensbourg earned her doctorate in inorganic chemistry at the University of Illinois in 1967 and held faculty appointments at Vassar College (1967-69), State University of New York, Buffalo (1969-71) and Tulane University (1971-82) prior to coming to Texas A&M, where was appointed a distinguished professor of chemistry in 2010. She is an inaugural fellow of the ACS (2009) as well as a fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (2014) and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2011), one the country's oldest and most prestigious honorary learned societies.

A native of Kentucky, Darensbourg was trained as an organometallic chemist with earlier research programs in transition metals. Roughly two decades ago, she began exploring the inorganic biocatalysts within hydrogen-controlling microorganisms for use in clean-energy initiatives. A pioneer in many areas of chemistry, Darensbourg became the first-ever female recipient in 1995 of the ACS Distinguished Service in the Advancement of Inorganic Chemistry Award, the society's top annual honor for inorganic accomplishment.

"It was Dr. Darensbourg's uncanny insight into the chemistry of these molecules [organometallic compounds] that led to her inspiration for a new field of organometallic chemistry, bioorganometallic chemistry, and her leap to the top 1 percent of researchers in this exciting and still growing field of research," said Dr. Kristin Bowman-James, University Distinguished Professor of Chemistry at the University of Kansas, in support of the nomination. "She has been a trailblazer in the birth of the field of bioorganometallic chemistry, and she has excelled over the course of her career and continues to make important contributions to her field."

In addition to authoring more than 230 refereed papers, Darensbourg has co-edited two specialty chemistry books, co-authored a freshman chemistry textbook and given plenary lectures at several prestigious international conferences. Her many career honors include the ACS Southwest Region Award (1998), the Distinguished Scientist Award for 2011 from the Texas A&M chapter of Sigma Xi and Texas A&M Association of Former Students Distinguished Achievement Awards in three separate categories: Teaching (1986); Research (1995) and Graduate Mentoring (2012).

An in-demand presenter and international symposia organizer, Darensbourg is active in professional bodies beyond the ACS, including the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health and advisory panels for the Petroleum Research Fund and National Academy of Sciences. She currently serves on the editorial boards for Inorganic Chemistry, Inorganic Syntheses and Chemical Communications as well as the advisory board for Encyclopedia of Inorganic and Bioinorganic Chemistry.

To learn more about Darensbourg and her research, visit the M.Y. Darensbourg Research Laboratories site.

Click here to see a complete list of 2017 ACS Award winners or to learn more about individual awards.

For more information about the Texas A&M Department of Chemistry, go to http://www.chem.tamu.edu.

# # # # # # # # # #

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 $866.6 million in fiscal year 2015. Texas A&M ranked in the top 20 of the National Science Foundation's Higher Education Research and Development survey (2014), based on expenditures of more than $854 million in fiscal year 2014. 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 http://research.tamu.edu.


Contact: Shana K. Hutchins, (979) 862-1237 or shutchins@science.tamu.edu or Dr. Marcetta Y. Darensbourg, (979) 845-5417 or marcetta@chem.tamu.edu

Hutchins Shana

  • Dr. Marcetta Y. Darensbourg

  • Texas A&M University chemist Marcetta Darensbourg's research focuses on nature and the simplest of all molecules, hydrogen, in her laboratory's search for inexpensive, eco-friendly, alternative energy options.

  • Marcetta York Darensbourg, signing the American Academy of Arts and Sciences' Book of Members -- a tradition that dates back to 1780 -- as part of the official induction ceremony held in Cambridge, Mass.

© Texas A&M University. To request use of any of our photographs for educational use or to view additional options from our archive, please contact the College of Science Communications Office.

College of Science
517 Blocker
TAMU 3257 | 979-845-7361
Site Policies
Contact Webmaster
Social Media