A Texas A&M University chemist will receive the 1998 Priestley Medal, the highest honor the American Chemical Society (ACS) has to offer.

F. Albert Cotton, director of Texas A&M's Laboratory for Molecular Structure and Bonding, will receive the medal -- considered by chemists to rank second only to the Nobel Prize -- during a national ACS meeting early next year in Dallas.

The award was announced Monday (April 21).

Doherty-Welch Foundation Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, Cotton is the second member of the Texas A&M chemistry faculty to receive the coveted award. Nobel laureate Sir Derek Barton received the 1995 medal.

Texas A&M chemist and distinguished professor John Fackler, former dean of Texas A&M's College of Science, studied under Cotton at MIT. He says the ACS honor is well-deserved and long overdue.

"I'm delighted to see that he is finally being recognized for his enormous contributions to the field," Fackler says.

Cotton is probably best known among chemists for his discoveries of multiple bonds between metal atoms, and he originated the idea of "cluster chemistry" in transition metals. He was one of the first chemists to apply the mathematical concepts of group theory to the study of complex bonds.

Theories developed in his research over more than 30 years have grown into processes that produce high-octane gasoline, platinum-palladium catalytic converters, ethyl alcohol coolants, synthetic motor oils and rubber tires, paint brighteners and high-strength structural plastics.

He has published more than 1,300 articles in refereed journals and for more than 20 years has been among the most-cited researchers in chemistry.

Cotton is the only American chemist to win all seven ACS gold medals. The seventh ACS award, the F.A. Cotton Award and Lectureship for Excellence in Chemical Research, is named in his honor, and he was the first recipient, in 1995.

He received the 1994 Robert A. Welch Award in Chemistry, which he shared with University of Chicago chemist Jack Halpern. He also received the 1990 King Faisal Medal from the government of Saudi Arabia. He received the National Medal of Science in 1982.

He also is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Royal Society, the French Academy and the American Philosophical Society. He has received two Guggenheim Fellowships and holds honorary doctorates from 22 universities.

Born in Philadelphia, Cotton received a bachelor's degree from Temple University in 1951. He studied under Sir Geoffrey Wilkinson (who later won the Nobel Prize for chemistry) at Harvard and received his Ph.D. from that institution in 1955.

Cotton joined the MIT faculty and in 1961 became the youngest person to be named full professor. He joined Texas A&M's chemistry faculty in 1972.

His book, "Advanced Inorganic Chemistry," written with Wilkinson, is the leading textbook of inorganic chemistry.

CONTACT: Gene Charleton at (409) 845-4644 or by e-mail at e-charleton@tamu.edu.

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