Dr. Dudley R. Herschbach, 1986 Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry and Frank B. Baird Jr. Professor of Science at Harvard University, will join Texas A&M University's Department of Physics, effective September 1, 2005, announced Dr. Edward S. Fry, professor and head of Physics.

Herschbach has accepted a position as professor of physics for one semester each year in the Department's chemical physics program, marking only the third Nobel laureate in Texas A&M's 129-year history and one of the College of Science's biggest recruiting coups thus far under the University's multi-year faculty reinvestment plan.

"It is fantastic to have someone of Dr. Herschbach's stature joining our department," Fry said. "He is one of the leading chemical physicists in the world, and I am elated. His interactions at Texas A&M University with the George P. and Cynthia W. Mitchell Institute for Fundamental Physics and the Institute for Quantum Studies will be important elements in our Department's continued drive toward excellence. He will also have a significant positive impact on many other programs at the University, especially in the Department of Chemistry."

One of 146 laureates honored for achievements in chemistry since the inception of the prestigious Nobel Prize program in 1901, Herschbach shared the 1986 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Yuan T. Lee and John C. Polanyi in recognition of their contributions concerning the dynamics of chemical elementary processes. Their research proved to be of great importance in the development of a new field of chemistry research, reaction dynamics, and has provided a much more detailed understanding of how chemical reactions take place.

"In his proven record of excellence, from scholarly research and teaching to science outreach and service, Dudley Herschbach personifies the very professor Texas A&M's faculty reinvestment plan was intended to recruit," said H. Joseph Newton, dean of the College of Science. "I have no doubt he will bring the same type of groundbreaking results to Texas A&M University as he has to the field of chemistry."

Although not scheduled to arrive at Texas A&M until the fall, Herschbach already is quite familiar with the Department and many of his soon-to-be colleagues. In fact, he cites his collaborative research with the University's Institute of Quantum Studies, directed by Distinguished Professor of Physics and fellow National Academy of Sciences member Marlan Scully, as a key factor in his decision to come to Texas A&M.

"Already I've had two encounters with Marlan Scully and some of his Texas A&M University colleagues in meetings at Princeton," Herschbach said. "The caliber and scope of their work and zest in its pursuit are very impressive. It will be a pleasure to do all I can to enhance chemical physics at Texas A&M."

A member of the Harvard faculty since 1963, Herschbach has served as chairman of the chemistry department and of its chemical physics program. His teaching includes graduate courses in quantum mechanics, chemical kinetics, molecular spectroscopy and collision theory, as well as undergraduate courses in physical chemistry and general chemistry for freshmen, which he describes as his most challenging assignment. He also is engaged in several efforts to improve K-12 science education and public understanding of science.

Herschbach is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences, the American Philosophical Society and the Royal Chemical Society of Great Britain. In addition to the Nobel Prize, his many international awards include the American Chemical Society's Pure Chemistry Prize and Kosolapoff Award, the Linus Pauling Medal, the Michael Polanyi Medal, the American Physical Society's Irving Langmuir Prize, the National Medal of Science, the Jaroslav Heyrovsky Medal, the Sierra Nevada Distinguished Chemist Award, the William Walker Prize and the Council of Scientific Society President's Award for Support of Science.

Nearly two decades after receiving his Nobel Prize, Herschbach continues to advance the field of chemical physics. To date, he has published more than 400 papers on related research topics ranging from collision stereodynamics and molecular slowing to catalytic supersonic expansions and strongly correlated many-particle interactions.

"We are delighted to welcome a world authority in the molecular dynamics of molecular reactions to our campus," said Dr. Emile A. Schweikert, professor and head of Chemistry. "Dr. Herschbach is a valued colleague and a friend of many of the chemists at Texas A&M. Our physical chemists are looking forward to stimulating discussions and fruitful collaborations."

A native of San Jose, Calif., Herschbach earned both an A.M. degree in physics and a Ph.D. in chemical physics at Harvard after receiving a bachelor's of science in mathematics and a master's of science in chemistry from Stanford University.


Contact: Shana K. Hutchins, (979) 862-1237 or shutchins@science.tamu.edu or Dr. Edward S. Fry, (979) 845-7717 or fry@physics.tamu.edu

Hutchins Shana

  • Quantum One-Two Punch

    Dudley Herschbach, only the third Nobel laureate in Texas A&M's 129-year history, will team up with Marlan Scully in the Institute for Quantum Studies and also teach classes in chemical physics.

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