Prominent Houston ophthalmologist and leading eye disease expert Richard S. Ruiz, M.D., has 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.

Ruiz, class of 1954, will be recognized Thursday (Mar. 31) for his achievements and contributions to his profession, community and causes as part of the college's Spring Recognition and Awards Dinner, to be held at Pebble Creek Country Club in College Station. The college also will recognize its current scholarship recipients along with all of the donors who have established endowed gifts within the college's five departments during the past year.

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. Ruiz joins a prestigious list of 38 previous honorees distinguished for their merit and innovative achievements.

"Dr. Ruiz is a great example of the many eminent physicians who are our former students, and we are honored to have him join our Academy of Distinguished Former Students," said Dr. H. Joseph Newton, dean of the College of Science.

This year the college also will unveil a new honor, the Jack H. Lunsford '57 Award for Excellence in Service to the College of Science. Established in 2010, the award is intended to recognize Texas A&M former students not affiliated by major with the college who have performed extraordinary service to the college. The inaugural award will be presented Thursday to none other than its namesake, longtime chemistry professor Dr. Jack H. Lunsford, class of 1957, of College Station.

"Throughout the years, we have realized there are many Aggies who were not students in our college who went on to do great things for the college," Newton said. "Dr. Lunsford is a great example of this, and we are honored to present him with this inaugural service award."

Ruiz, whose research and practical focus is age-related macular degeneration and ocular melanoma, is a partner in The Robert Cizik Eye Clinic (formerly Hermann Eye Center). In addition, he has served more than three decades on the faculty at The University of Texas Medical School at Houston, where he is professor and chairman emeritus of The Richard S. Ruiz Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Science.

Ruiz studied two years at Texas A&M in the early 1950s toward a bachelors of science in biology at Texas A&M (awarded in August 2010) prior to leaving in 1953 to pursue a medical degree at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, which he received in 1957. After completing a yearlong post-graduate internship at Hermann Hospital (1957-58) and three years of residency with the Kresge Eye Institute at Wayne State University and the City of Detroit Receiving Hospital (1958-61), he spent one year at Harvard Medical School on a Retina Foundation Fellowship with the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary (1961-62) before being certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology in 1963. Prior to joining the UTMS-Houston faculty as a clinical professor in 1971, Ruiz held academic and/or surgical appointments at several of the state's most prominent healthcare institutions, including UTMB-Galveston (1964-79), Baylor College of Medicine (1964-75), and M.D. Anderson Cancer Research Center (1964-83). He was chief of ophthalmology at Memorial Hermann Hospital for 40 years and St. Joseph's Hospital for 15 years. In addition, he has been a visiting professor at many additional institutions nationwide.

A prolific researcher, Ruiz has delivered more than 250 presentations across the nation and world and published nearly 100 articles during his career. In addition he has served as a United States Public Health Service Hospital Consultant and on two different panels for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. No stranger to former student recognition, he previously has been honored with distinguished alumnus awards from both UTMB-Galveston (1988) and the Kresge Eye Institute (2001). He also is deeply involved in the Houston community through his work with the Assistance League; Women's Fund for Health, Education and Research; Texas Commission for the Blind; Downtown YMCA; and Museum of Health and Science.

"Dr. Ruiz initiated one of the most successful groups of ophthalmologists in Texas," said George A. Hrdlicka, a partner in the Houston law firm Chamberlain, Hrdlicka, White, Williams & Martin, P.C. "What makes him unique, however, is his understanding of the need for professionals to support their local communities. To this end, Dr. Ruiz founded the Hermann Eye Fund in the early 1970s to provide medical care for indigent persons. As a consequence, countless indigent persons who could not otherwise have afforded eye care have received treatment."

Lunsford received his bachelor's degree in chemical engineering in 1957 from Texas A&M, where he was Corps of Cadets Commander, and his Ph.D. from Rice University in 1962. After serving as a 1st Lieutenant in the United States Air Force, he returned to Texas A&M in 1966 as an assistant professor of chemistry, earning promotion to full professor in 1971. In the decades since, he has amassed a reputation as an international expert in the field of heterogeneous catalysis, with emphasis on the use of spectroscopic techniques to identify active centers and reaction intermediates. He was appointed a distinguished professor of chemistry in 1999 and, upon his partial retirement in 2000, a distinguished professor emeritus.

His many career awards include the Paul H. Emmett Award in Fundamental Catalysis (1975), the American Chemical Society Southwest Regional Award (1983), a Guggenheim Fellowship (1985), an Alexander von Humboldt Senior Scientist Award (1992), the Natural Gas Conversion Award (1993), the ACS Award in Petroleum Chemistry (1996), and the ACS Award for Creative Research in Homogeneous and Heterogeneous Catalysis (2002).

Lunsford fully retired in 2008 with more than 300 peer-reviewed publications as well as many industrial applications and process improvements, prestigious awards, and a legion of stellarly educated and well-trained proteges to his credit. In 2009 his many former students, friends, and colleagues established the Jack H. Lunsford '57 Endowed Fellowship in Chemistry at Texas A&M in his honor.

"Jack Lunsford is such a humble giant in chemical technology, and yet, he has never blown his own horn about such things," said Dr. William R. Howell Jr., class of '69 and longtime researcher with The Dow Chemical Company who currently serves as director of business development for The Texas A&M System Office of Technology Commercialization. "I have worked with him on some projects relating to sponsored research, and in each instance, Jack has taken me into his lab and explained exactly what he is doing and why. He tries to reduce things to the simplest terms to get the absolute best information possible. His purposeful simplicity in his approach to problems as well as in addressing people and his patience in doing both is one of the most striking beauties I see about him. He's a gentleman who always gives respect to others, regardless of who they are, and definitely someone I would encourage any young person -- particularly promising chemists -- to emulate."

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

For more information on the Academy and its previous inductees, visit http://www.science.tamu.edu/giving/adfs.php.


The complete list of gifts made to the Texas A&M University College of Science since March 16, 2010, and their purposes is as follows:


-- The Margaret Sheather Memorial Award in Statistics was established in April 2010 by Simon J. Sheather in memory of his mother, Margaret Sheather, to recognize the student(s) producing the most outstanding master's project each year and demonstrating outstanding scholarly achievement, including superior academic standing, while pursuing degrees in the Department of Statistics at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas.


-- The Dow Chemical Company/Charlene Black Miller '79 Endowed Memorial Fellowship in Chemistry was established in February 2011 in memory of Charlene Black Miller '79 to recognize graduate research student(s) who demonstrate research excellence in chemistry, especially where genuine innovation has been achieved, and are full-time graduate students in good academic standing pursuing degrees from the Department of Chemistry at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas.

-- The Anant M. Kshirsagar Endowed Fellowship in Statistics was established in June 2010 by Ersen Arseven '74 and Luisa L. Sia '74 in honor of their professor, Anant M. Kshirsagar, to provide fellowships for full-time graduate students in good standing pursuing degrees from the Department of Statistics at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas.

-- The Jack H. Lunsford '57 Endowed Fellowship in Chemistry was established in March 2009 by friends, colleagues and former students in honor of Dr. Jack H. Lunsford '57 to provide fellowships for deserving graduate students pursuing research in physical chemistry at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas.


-- The Deborah Creel Loth '82 Endowed Scholarship in Science was established in December 2010 by Deborah Creel Loth '82 to provide scholarships to full-time students in good academic standing pursuing undergraduate degrees in the College of Science at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas.

-- The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Undergraduate Scholarship for Women in Physics was established in December 2010 by Sheridan Mitchell Lorenz, The Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation and 11 physics and astronomy faculty members to provide scholarships to full-time female undergraduate students in good academic standing pursuing degrees in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas.

-- The Margaret Mount Moore Endowed Scholarship in Mathematics was established in February 2011 by Beth M. '89 and Michael E. Beard '90 in honor of Michael's high school mathematics teacher, Margaret Mount Moore, to provide scholarships to full-time upper-level undergraduate students in good academic standing with minimum 2.5 GPAs pursuing degrees in the Department of Mathematics at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas.


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

Hutchins Shana

  • Richard S. Ruiz, M.D. '54

  • Jack H. Lunsford '57

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