COLLEGE STATION --
Friends, colleagues and former students gathered together Monday night to honor the career and achievements of Frank Albert Cotton, Texas A&M University's W.T. Doherty-Welch Foundation Professor, Distinguished Professor, director of the Laboratory for Molecular Structure and Bonding and one of the most renowned chemists in the world.
Speaking in the Presidential Conference Center, Texas A&M President Ray M. Bowen called Cotton's achievements "staggering," and said among the scientific community, Cotton "is the best of the best."
Cotton's expertise is in inorganic chemistry and in metallic elements. His greatest achievements have centered on metal-metal bonding. In 1963, he was the first to discover the existence of double, triple and quadruple metal-metal bonds, a finding that eventually affected about one-half of the elements of the periodic table.
Almost as impressive as his research has been his scholarly activity, said John Fackler, distinguished professor of chemistry at Texas A&M. Cotton has written several textbooks that have been used in high school and college courses for decades. His Advanced Inorganic Chemistry has sold more than 500,000 copies in 13 languages. Another of his books, Chemical Applications of Group Theory, has been the standard text for many of the world's chemists for years.
"Besides his famous textbooks, Frank Cotton has published 1,421 research articles," said Jack Lewis, a colleague from Robinson College in Cambridge, England. "To try and review the articles he's published is like trying to review the Encyclopedia Brittannica. At the age of 31, Frank became the youngest full professor in the history of MIT, and Texas A&M was lucky enough to attract him to its faculty in 1972, and since then, his career has continued to flourish."
Cotton has also supervised 111 students who went on to get their doctoral degrees.
Marye Anne Fox, chancellor of North Carolina State University and a chemistry professor, said Cotton's service rendered to the nation is almost as great as his scholarly research. "He's brought recognition to the field of science, and his contributions to scientific policy through the National Science Foundation and the National Academy of Science have been immense," Fox said.
Keynote speaker and chemistry professor Tobin Marks of Northwestern University said Cotton's research work "is mind boggling. Over 1,400 publications - in the academic world, that is truly mind boggling," Marks added.
Addressing his admirers, former students and co-workers, Cotton thanked them for their friendship. "I want to thank everyone who made this evening possible," he said, adding jokingly, "and I want to stress that this is NOT a retirement ceremony for me."
Contact: Keith Randall at (409) 845-4644.
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