In the world of academia, the phrase "publish or perish" is often used, meaning survival for faculty members depends on how often their research gets printed.

Texas A&M University chemistry professor F. Albert Cotton probably could have relaxed sometime during the Eisenhower administration. He's just had his 1,500th article published-by far the most ever at the 125-year-old school, and perhaps the most for anyone in Texas.

"Guess I can finally forget about the perishing part," Cotton jokes.

To top it off, he will receive his 27th and 28th honorary doctorates in the next few days, another Texas A&M record.

It's all just another day at the office for the 72-year-old Cotton, who plans to keep the articles coming. While many faculty strain to get two or three articles published per year, Cotton has averaged about 30 each year for the past 50 years.

He has no plans to retire and is already working on publication 1,501.

It will probably be easier than his first published work, which appeared in 1951 - before many of the current Texas A&M chemistry faculty were born - and was inspired by his part-time job at an electroplating plant. Cotton was an undergraduate student at Temple University at the time, and it's not often that journals publish articles from students who have yet to graduate.

Fast forward to May 2002, where his latest work, "The Lengths of Molybdenum to Molybdenum Quadruple Bonds: Correlations, Explanations, Corrections" has appeared in Inorganic Chemistry, a publication of the prestigious American Chemical Society.

For Cotton, his success in his field has been commonplace, and he has become the most honored faculty member in the history of Texas A&M, based on number of prestigious national and international awards received. For example, he has won the National Medal of Science, the Priestley Award of the American Chemical Society and the Gold Medal of the American Institute of Chemists. In 2000, he won the Wolf Prize, now viewed by scholars as approaching the stature of the Nobel Prize, with the Wolf Prize jury calling Cotton "the pre- eminent inorganic chemist in the world." His body of work on metallic elements has impacted biochemistry, molecular biology, chemical engineering and physics

He earned his doctorate from Harvard and taught at MIT, where in 1961, at age 31, he became the youngest MIT professor ever to attain the rank of full professor. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences at age 37.

Cotton came to Texas A&M in 1972 as Robert A. Welch Professor of Chemistry.

He will later this month receive an honorary degree from Hebrew University in Jerusalem - along with former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani - and one from Drexel University in Philadelphia.

Cotton says he's most proud of the students he's helped. He has directly supervised the work of 57 Texas A&M graduate students who went on to earn their doctoral degrees, yet another school record for faculty.

"The thrill of discovery and the challenge of finding out something that perhaps no one has yet - those things are still very, very exciting to me," Cotton explains.

"Maybe I was born with a lot of energy because I still love what I'm doing, and seeing my students walk across the stage and get their degrees still gives me a big kick. That's the part I'll never get tired of, and that's why I have no plans to even think about retiring."

So get ready, chemistry editorial boards. The familiar name of F. Albert Cotton is coming your way -- again and again.

Hutchins Shana

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