A successful Galveston area businessman and higher education advocate and a prominent researcher and science administrator have been selected by the Texas A&M University College of Science for its highest alumni honor, induction into the College's Academy of Distinguished Former Students.

John W. "Bill" Lyons Jr., Class of 1959, of Texas City, and Jehanne Simon-Gillo, Class of 1990, of Washington, D.C., will be honored Thursday (March 30) for their accomplishments and contributions as part of the College's Spring Recognition and Awards Dinner, to be held at Pebble Creek Country Club in College Station.

The Academy was established in 1996 to recognize Aggies who have brought honor to their alma mater and professions through outstanding leadership in mathematics, statistics, the sciences and medicine. Lyons and Simon-Gillo join an elite group of 28 honorees who represent diverse and groundbreaking achievement that has produced worldwide benefit.

"We are very proud to add Bill Lyons and Jehanne Simon-Gillo to our Academy," said Dr. H. Joseph Newton, dean of the College. "They have brought great credit to our College and to Texas A&M University. We are delighted to bestow this award on them."

In conjunction with the event, the College also will recognize its current scholarship winners as well as all donors who have established endowed gifts under Texas A&M's One Spirit One Vision fund-raising campaign during the past year. Since last spring, these former students, friends and corporations have committed nearly $41 million to help both the College and the University surpass their campaign goals of $45 million and $1 billion, respectively.

"The generosity of the people who have contributed to the College of Science is making possible a number of things that would not be possible otherwise," Newton added.

Lyons, who earned a bachelor's degree in biology from Texas A&M and later a law degree from South Texas Law School, is principal owner of Sea Lion Technology Inc. and Texas Molecular Limited Partnership and a partner in Lyons & Plackemeier. He is described as a clear and critical thinker who is vitally interested in promoting science and higher education, as evidenced by his recent commitment to fund the first endowed chair in the Texas A&M Department of Biology and his longtime leadership in biological research in the Gulf of Mexico through A&M's Galveston campus, where he also serves as director of the Board of Visitors. In addition, Lyons is a generous contributor to Texas A&M Athletics and to scholarships benefiting high school students in the Texas City/Galveston area.

"Bill is an exceptionally modest man who, instead of speaking of his accomplishments, inspires and helps others accomplish what they otherwise may not have attempted," said Casey J. Borowski, president and chief executive officer of Texas Molecular Limited Partnership and a member of the College of Science External Advisory & Development Council. "It is the sum total of his professional accomplishments, his personal qualities and his commitment to educational excellence -- and Texas A&M University, in particular -- that makes him so deserving of admission to the Academy of Distinguished Former Students."

Since earning her Ph.D. in physics from Texas A&M in 1990, Simon-Gillo has distinguished herself as an accomplished researcher and science administrator. She currently serves as the director of the Division of Facilities and Project Management in the Office of Nuclear Physics in the United States Department of Energy. As such, Simon-Gillo oversees a budget of more than $30 million per year and handles all capital and new construction projects, effectively setting the nation's nuclear physics priorities while ensuring that it has the research capabilities to remain at the forefront of global science. Prior to joining the DOE in 2001, she was a staff physicist/group leader at Los Alamos National Laboratory, where she participated in high-energy nuclear physics experiments at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) and the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) at Brookhaven National Laboratory.

"She is a very effective manager who gets the maximum program done, given the available resources," said Dr. Barbara Jacak, a professor of physics at New York's Stony Brook State University who first met Simon-Gillo during her graduate student days at Texas A&M. "She follows the science and the technical issues thoroughly and insightfully and takes every opportunity to push for the long-term success and planning for nuclear physics operations. She has already risen in position and stature at the DOE, and I have no doubt that she will rise further."

Members of the Academy receive a commemorative award and have their names placed on a perpetual plaque in the College of Science's Dean's Office.

For more information regarding the Academy and its 2006 inductees or establishing a gift in the College of Science, visit http://www.science.tamu.edu/giving/adfs.php or contact Sidney Outlaw at (979) 845-9642.


Contact: Shana K. Hutchins, (979) 862-1237 or shutchins@science.tamu.edu

The complete list of gifts made to the Texas A&M University College of Science since March 16, 2005, and their purposes is as follows:


-- The Mervin J. Bazile Jr. Endowed Graduate Student International Travel Award was established in April 2005 to honor the memory of Mervin J. Bazile Jr., a graduate student in the Department of Chemistry. The endowment will provide travel funds for graduate students attending international chemistry conferences and meetings.

-- The Dr. C.J. Maxson Endowed Lecture Series was established in October 2005 by Dr. Ponnammal Natarajan of Alpharetta, Georgia, to support an annual lecture series on areas of current interest in algebra, combinatorics, number theory and automata theory in the Department of Mathematics.

-- The George P. Mitchell '40 Endowed Astronomy Colloquium Series Fund was established in September 2005 by Mr. George P. Mitchell '40 of Houston to provide support for an annual astronomy colloquium in the Department of Physics.

-- The George P. Mitchell '40 Endowed Lecture in Astronomy was established in September 2005 by Mr. George P. Mitchell '40 of Houston to support an annual scientific lecture and public talk by a renowned speaker on a current topic in astronomy.


-- The George P. and Cynthia W. Mitchell Institute for Fundamental Physics and Astronomy Building and the George P. Mitchell '40 Physics Building were established in November 2005 by Mr. George P. Mitchell '40 and Cynthia W. Mitchell to house the Mitchell Institute for Fundamental Physics and Astronomy and the Department of Physics, respectively. The gifts will help support actual physical building as well as architectural services for the buildings, to be designed and performed by Michael Graves and Associates, as well as pay for outside services to assist in the architectural planning portion of the design and structural process. Groundbreaking for both facilities is expected to take place in May 2006.


-- The John W. Lyons Jr. '59 Endowed Chair in Biology was established in December 2005 by Mr. John W. "Bill" Lyons Jr. '59 of Texas City to support the teaching, research, service and professional development activities of the chair holder in the Department of Biology.

-- The George P. Mitchell '40 Endowed Chair in Statistics was established in January 2006 by Mr. George P. Mitchell '40 of Houston to support the current dean of the College of Science and, at his discretion, be used to advance programs in the College.

-- The Munnerlyn-Heep Endowed Chair In Quantum Optics was established in March 2006 by Judith G. and Dr. Charles R. Munnerlyn '62 of San Jose, California, to support a new faculty member in the Department of Physics.

Research Endowments

-- The George P. Mitchell '40 Endowed Post-Doctoral Research Fund in Astronomy was established in September 2005 by Mr. George P. Mitchell '40 of Houston to support the astronomical research efforts of the George P. Mitchell Post-Doctoral Fellow in Astronomy.

Undergraduate Scholarships

-- The William James Crenan '49 Endowed Scholarship was established in February 2006 by Patrick '80 and Donna Crenan Ryan '80 of College Station in honor of her father, William James Crenan '49, and to provide funds for undergraduate students pursuing degrees in the College of Science.

-- The Dr. David W. Lipp '66 Memorial Endowed Scholarship was established in November 2005 by the Lipp Family Foundation in memory of Dr. David W. Lipp '66 with a gift that was matched by the Department of Chemistry. The scholarship will provide support for full-time students pursuing graduate degrees in chemistry.

-- The Connie G. And Otto F. "Pete" Schumm '45 Endowed Fund in Chemistry originally was established in May 2004 as a planned gift by Connie G. and Otto F. "Pete" Schumm '45 of Lake Jackson. The scholarship, which became active in December 2005, will support undergraduate and graduate students pursuing degrees in the Department of Chemistry.

-- The William A. Triche and Homer A. Triche Endowed Scholarship Fund in Engineering, Science and Medicine originally was established in November 2004 as a planned gift by Mr. William A. Triche '50. The scholarship, which became active in November 2005, will support students pursuing degrees in the College of Science.

Unrestricted Funds

-- The George P. Mitchell '40 Salary Enhancement Endowment in the Department of Physics was established in September 2005 by Mr. George P. Mitchell '40 of Houston to support the extraordinary expenses of one or more faculty members in the Department of Physics.

Hutchins Shana

  • John W. "Bill" Lyons Jr. '59

  • Jehanne Simon-Gillo '90

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