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Honorary Degrees

Honorary Doctorates Awarded to Chemists

Dr. Gertrude Elion, June 1993

Gertrude B. Elion (1918-1999)

June 1993

Gertrude Elion shared the 1988 Nobel Prize in physiology/medicine.

Her major achievements included the development of drugs to treat leukemia, gout, herpes virus infection, and to prevent rejection in organ transplants.

At the age of 15, she chose a career in molecular sciences and decided to go into cancer research to find a cure for cancer. In 1937, she earned a bachelors degree with highest honors from Hunter College. Living at home, and working as a high school teacher, she took evening classes and earned a masters degree in chemistry from New York University in 1941.

She experienced discrimination in the 1940s and had a difficult time finding a job that matched her ability and training. But since male chemists were away there was a need for chemists during World War II. Her employment chances improved and she worked first in a food laboratory, then in a research laboratory. In the mid-1940s, she joined the Burroughs-Wellcome Company where she remained, working with Dr. George Hitchings until her retirement.

She had applied to fifteen graduate schools asking for aid so she could pursue her doctorate, and was turned down by all. Later she was to receive 25 honorary doctorates, including a Doctor of Science from the University of South Florida (hon. causa) in June, 1993.

In 1991, she was the first woman to be inducted in the National Inventors Hall of Fame. The other 119 initially inducted included Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, and the Wright brothers. She also received the National Medal of Science, the Medal of Honor (American Cancer Society), and the ACS Garvan Medal.

Sources: Susan Casey (1997) Women Invent!; Chemical Heritage

Dr. Joanna Fowler (B.A. '65), May 2010

Dr. Joanna Fowler

Dr. Joanna FowlerMay 2010 (B.A. '65)

Honorary Doctor of Science Citation

University of South Florida alumna Dr. Joanna Fowler has been a longstanding pioneer in the scientific research community. Today her extraordinary career comes full circle, as she receives an Honorary Doctorate of Science from USF.

Dr. Joanna Fowler is currently a senior scientist at Brookhaven National Laboratory and adjunct Professor in both the Chemistry Department and Biomedical Engineering Department at SUNY- Stony Brook. Over the course of her distinguished career at BNL, her work has been highlighted in Time Magazine and cited twice in Discover as one of the top science stories of the year. She has published close to 350 peer-reviewed articles in leading scientific journals and holds eight patents for radiolabelling procedures.

Dr. Fowler's work on elucidating the characteristics and mechanics behind addictive behaviors and substance abuse, along with her illuminating work on cancer, has led to some of the most honored awards conferred upon a scientist. In 2009, Dr. Fowler was one of nine researchers named by President Obama to receive the nation's highest award for lifetime achievement in science, The National Medal of Science. This award recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions to science and engineering. In addition, in 2003 she was elected to the National Academy of Sciences, the highest recognition of a scientist by one's peers, and she is believed to be the first USF alumna to be elected.

Numerous other honors include the American chemical Society's Glen T. Seaborg Award for Nuclear and Radiochemistry (2002), the Society of Nuclear Imaging in Drug Development's Alfred P. Wolf Award (2000), the Department of Energy's E.O. Lawrence Award(1999), and the Francis P. Garvan-John M. Olin Medal in 1998.

Dr. Fowler has supported education of chemists at USF and maintained contact by serving as the Martin Lecturer in the Department of Chemistry. During her undergraduate years at USF she met and married fellow chemistry major Dr. Frank W. Fowler. In 1994, Dr. Fowler and her husband shared the Department of Chemistry's Outstanding Alumni Award.

After earning a B.A. in chemistry as a charter class member at USF and a Ph.D. in chemistry at the University of Colorado in 1967, Fowler carried out postdoctoral research at the University of East Anglia, in Norwich, England, and at Brookhaven National Laboratory.

Dr. Fowler and her husband reside in Bellport, New York.

Dr. Joseph S. Francisco, December, 2012

Dr. Joseph Francisco

Joseph FransiscoDecember 2012

Honorary Doctor of Science Citation

The University of South Florida today presents an Honorary Doctorate of Science to internationally known scientist, scholar and leader Dr. Joseph S. Francisco.

Dr. Francisco is the William F. Moore Distinguished Professor of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences and Chemistry at Purdue University. He also serves as the Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Education. Over the course of his distinguished career he has contributes over 400 research papers and nine review chapters in the premier peer-reviewed scientific journals in the world including Science, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and Journal of the American Chemical Society.

A highly regarded atmospheric scientist, his experimental and theoretical contributions have made a major and broad impact upon the field. His work laid the foundation for understanding atmospheric chemistry of proposed alternative, less harmful halocarbons critical for the conservation of the ozone layer in the upper atmosphere. In his election to the American Academy of the Arts and Sciences, the Academy recognized his work as having "revolutionized our understanding of the chemical processes in the atmosphere".

Dr. Francisco's scientific contributions have won him recognition as a member of the prestigious American Academy of the Arts and Sciences, a fellow of the Alfred P. Sloan Research Foundation, a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science as well as the American Physical Society. He has received the Edward W. Morley medal, the Herbert Newby McCoy Award, the Humboldt Senior U,S. Scientist Award and the Percy L. Julian Award.

He has served as the President of the American Chemical Society and the President of the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers. He was also appointed to President Obama's selection committee for the National Medal of Science.

Dr. Francisco has supported the education of chemists at USF by serving as the Martin Lecturer in the Department of Chemistry sharing his scientific experiences with students, faculty and postdoctoral research fellows. He has also been a speaker at the Tampa Bay section of the American Chemical Society.

After earning a B.S. in Chemistry with honors from the University of Texas at Austin and a Ph.D. in Chemical Physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dr. Francisco carried out post-doctoral research at Cambridge University, England and at M.I.T.

Commencement Remarks

President Genshaft, Provost Wilcox, Board of Trustees, Faculty and Graduates. I have had, or shall I say, we all have had good fortunes to have had great teachers that pointed us in the right direction and that have always been there for us to fall back on when we needed them. It is their vision of the future for us whose "shoulder we stand on". Graduates, as you walk across this stage to accept your diploma, you will now have your opportunity to be that shoulder: A shoulder for all those younger than you. I came across a little story at the George Washington Carver Museum at Tuskegee University that summarizes this, and it goes as follows:


An old man, going on a lone highway,
Came, at the evening, cold and gray,
To a vast, and deep, and wide river,
Through which was flowing a sullen strea

The old man crossed in the twilight dim;
The sullen stream had no fears for him;
But he turned, when safe on the other side,
And started to build a bridge to span the river.

"Old man," said a fellow traveler,
"You are wasting strength with building here;
Your journey will end with the ending day;
You never again must pass this way;
You should retire, watch TV/movies, or go to the casino
Why build you this bridge ?"

The builder lifted his old gray head:
"Good friend, in the path I have come,"
"There follow after me today
A young person, whose feet must pass this way.

This river, has been naught to me,
To this young person this river may a pitfall.
This young one, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
Good friend, I am building the bridge for him


This honor, you bestow on me today, has given me a moment to reflect on all that I have accomplished; and I realized that a significant part of my life has been devoted, not only to doing research and research that I hope adds to improving and making life on our planet Earth better for all, but part of my life's work has been to service; and service to building bridges for our young people to enjoy successful careers in our profession of chemistry. My choice of service to others has not been easy, but it has been a wonderful and meaningful adventure. I have been lucky to have a wonderful wife to share this adventure with me. Now sometimes you cannot always be a shoulder for others to stand on, but at those moments, remember, you can be there to give people a "box" to stand on that helps enrich their lives when given the opportunity. Congratulations and good luck.

Picture caption: President Judy L. Genshaft, Dr. Gregory Teague (Faculty Senate President), Dr. Joseph S. Francisco, Dr. Ralph Wilcox (Provost and Executive Vice President). Photograph courtesy of Ms. Entela Balliu. (December 15, 2012)

Dr. Jerry Atwood, May 2013

Dr. Jerry Atwood

May 2013

Honorary Doctor of Science Citation

The University of South Florida today presents an Honorary Doctorate of Science to internationally known scientist, scholar and mentor Dr. Jerry Atwood.

Dr. Jerry Atwood is currently the Curator, Professor and Chair of the Department of Chemistry at the University of Missouri. An international leader in the field of supramolecular chemistry, Dr. Atwood was one of the first scientists to understand the significance of this emerging field. He has pioneered this area of research, co-writing a textbook, co-editing an encyclopedia, founding a journal and writing numerous notable research articles on the field. Dr. Atwood holds 13 patents and numerous notable research findings. In 1969, he first discovered liquid clathrates, (lattices of one type of molecule that can trap a second kind of molecule), which led to the development of the field of "green" or "environmentally friendly" chemistry. In 1997, he uncovered a way to fabricate nanocapsules, which he is currently trying to tweak for use as targeted drug-delivery mechanisms in the body. Heralded as a milestone in scientific circles, the discovery could revolutionize industries such as computer technology and pharmaceuticals.

Astoundingly, Dr. Atwood's prolific body of work has been cited more than 29,000 times with 67 of his papers having more than 100 citations each. He has published more than 750 articles in refereed journals, including five in Science, four in Nature, 45 in Angewandte Chemie and 104 in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. Editor of numerous peer-reviewed journals, he founded the journal Supramolecular Chemistry in 1992 and the Journal of Inclusion Phenomena in 1983.

An elected foreign member of the PolishAcademy of Science, Dr. Atwood was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry in 2005. He received the Izatt-Christensen International Macrocycle Award and the UM System President's Award from the American Chemical Society in 2005. Other honors and awards he has received include the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science Award in 1992 and the von Humboldt Senior Scientist Award in Germany in 1989.

Dr. Atwood has supported the education of chemists at USF and around the world. His impact as an outstanding teacher is reflected in the number of students that he mentored and which are now in prestigious positions all over the world including France, England, Germany, Japan, Poland, South Africa and the United States.

He received a B.S. in chemistry and Mathematics from Southwest Missouri State University and a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois.

Dr. Atwood has three sons and one daughter and resides in Columbia, Missouri.

Dr. Richard N. Zare, December 2013

Dr. Richard N. Zare

Dr. Richard N. ZareDecember 2013

Honorary Doctor of Science Citation

The University of Florida today presents an Honorary Doctorate of Science to internationally renowned scientist, educator and scholar Dr. Richard Zare.

Dr. Richard Zare is currently one of the most important figures in the world of science. He is the Maguerite Blake Wilbur Professor in Natural Science, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor and Chair of the Department of Chemistry at Stanford University. He previously served as an assistant professor at both Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Colorado and obtained full professorship in the chemistry department at Columbia University, becoming the Higgins Professor of Natural Science.

Known as a brilliant and creative chemical physicist, Dr. Zare has authored and co-authored over 800 publications, obtained more than 50 patents, and published four books. He is most renowned for his research in the area of laser chemistry which has helped facilitate a better understanding of chemical reactions at the molecular level. As stated by his peers, Dr. Zare's innovative development and application of laser technologies to key problems in chemistry have illuminated critical new knowledge.

An enthusiastic and outstanding teacher at the undergraduate and graduate levels, he has had an enormous impact enabling and inspiring students to succeed and under his guidance, over 100 students have received their Ph.D. degrees. Dr. Zare is a pioneer in creating courses in chemistry for non-scientists and first-year undergraduate students.

Dr. Zare has maintained a long-standing scientific collaboration with USF faculty members in the Department of Chemistry for more than 15 years. In addition, he served as the Martin Lecturer presenting research seminars and engaging in scientific exchanges with faculty and graduate students.

A dedicated civic scientist and public servant, the breadth and depth of Dr. Zare's contributions to the scientific community and our society have been immense. He has served in many advisory and administrative capacities including Chair of the National Research Council's Commission on Physical Sciences, Mathematics, and Applications, and chair of the National Science Board, a presidential appointment, where he had considerable influence over federal science policy.

Dr. Zare served as Chair of the President's National Medal of Science Selection Committee and most recently was appointed chair of the Committee on Science, Engineering and Public Policy. He currently serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors at Annual Reviews, Inc. and Chair of America Chemical Society's (ACS) Taskforce on Education.

The impact Dr. Zare has made to the field of chemistry has been recognized in a myriad of ways, including the National Medal of Science, presented by the President of the United States, the National Science Board Distinguished Service Award and ACS's highest honor, the Priestly Award. For his efforts in teaching and mentoring, he has received several teaching awards including the American Chemical Society Norris Award and the Pimentel Award in Chemical Education. In 2009, President Obama presented Dr. Zare with the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring.

He is a graduate of Harvard University, where he received his B.A. degree in chemistry and physics in 1961 and his Ph.D. in chemical physics in 1964. Dr. Zare and his wife Susan reside in Stanford, California and have three daughters.

Commencement Remarks

It is customary on these occasions to offer what is thought to be a few words of wisdom to the graduates. First of all, I am reminded of one of the lines from Lincoln's Gettysburg address: "The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here." Your parents, relatives, and friends might be wondering: What did they do here? By virtue of the efforts of the graduates before us, in the last few short years the world around us has been transformed—perhaps imperceptibly—but transformed nonetheless—in ways that we, or even they, may not yet fully comprehend. That is no small thing.

To the graduates—

I have only a few words of advice for you: Don't leave!
Stay in touch with your university.

We are here today celebrating your accomplishments, hard-won by virtue of toil and dedication, forged in the crucible of frustration and ennui in the bowels of the lab or library. It bears remembering that your success is due in no small part to the acts of others: your parents, your relatives, your teachers, your friends and colleagues, random acts of kindness by strangers that provided that spark of an idea or a new perspective on a problem that challenged you.

I would hope that all of you leave here slightly singed by the fires of curiosity—that sometime during your time here you will have experienced the exhilaration of a new discovery, the power of an untested but promising hypothesis, or the thrill in the pure majesty of an idea. Curiosity is an addictive drug—once experienced, you want more. It is fuel that fires innovation—a glowing ember that when fanned with the passion of conviction and married to the discipline to confront the brutal reality of the limits of our current understanding—you can illuminate the dark corners of our ignorance, and challenge the conventional, entrenched wisdom of how science or technology is practiced. Of all the human emotions, love is the most important and by finding something that you love—by throwing yourselves completely in it—you will find great fulfillment in a life well lived.

Please do not forget that education and science is a social activity in which we constantly benefit from others—whose acts are not merely the product of their own self-interest. I know I am here because of the help from others, my teachers, my graduate students, my postdocs, and my friends at USF—and of course my wonderful, supporting wife, Susan—and to all them, please join me in giving thanks for this special day!

Dr. Stephen L. Buchwald, May 2015

Dr. Stephen Leffler BuchwaldDr. Stephen Buchwald

May 2015

The University of South Florida today presents an Honorary Doctor of Science to internationally known scientist, scholar, and mentor Dr. Stephen Buchwald.

Dr. Buchwald is the Camille Dreyfus Professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. During a highly productive career at MIT, Dr. Buchwald has made major contributions to many areas of science and is an unquestioned star in the field of chemistry. He has received numerous honors including the Harold Edgerton Faculty Achievement Award, MERIT award from the National Institutes of Health, American Chemical Society's Award for Creative Work in Synthetic Organic Chemistry, Gustavus J. Esselen Award for Chemistry in the Public Interest, Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award, and in 2014 received the Linus Pauling Medal Award and the Ulysses Medal. He is an elected fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

Dr. Buchwald is a prolific author, inventor, and consultant. He is an associate editor of Advanced Synthesis and Catalysis and coauthor of 45 issued patents and over 430 published or accepted papers. As one of the most highly cited chemists in the world over the past decade, it is no exaggeration to say that virtually every major pharmaceutical company practices his chemistry on a daily basis. His research has played a key role in shaping the modern era of chemical synthesis and, as such, will have a lasting impact not just on the field of chemistry but also biology, medicine, and materials science.

Importantly, Dr. Buchwald is not only a world renowned chemist but has significant ties to the University of South Florida Chemistry Department. He has served as a Martin Lecturer in Chemistry and as postdoctoral mentor for two of our best chemists, Drs. Peter Zhang and Jon Antilla. Dr. Buchwald has proven to be a continuing source of career advice for both them and their students and has interacted directly with numerous USF science faculty and students.

Dr. Buchwald received a Bachelor of Science from Brown University in 1977 and Ph.D. from Harvard University as a National Science Foundation Predoctoral Fellow in 1982.

On the basis of his outstanding accomplishments benefitting humanity through chemistry, the University of South Florida is privileged to recognize Dr. Buchwald with an Honorary Doctor of Science. 

Dr. Eric Jacobsen, December 2015

Dr. Eric JacobsenDr. Eric Jacobsen

December 12, 2015

The University of South Florida today presents an Honorary Doctor of Science to renowned organic chemist and outstanding science educator, Dr. Eric Jacobsen.

Dr. Jacobsen joined Harvard University as full professor in 1993, was named the Sheldon Emory Professor of Organic Chemistry in 2001, and has served as Chair of the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology since 2010. He directs a research group of 20 graduate students and postdocs dedicated to discovering useful catalytic reactions, and to applying state-of-the-art mechanistic and computational techniques to the analysis of those reactions. Several of the catalysts developed in his labs have found widespread application in industry and academia. Before joining Harvard, Dr. Jacobsen served on the faculty of the University of Illinois from 1988 to 1993.

Dr. Jacobsen has had remarkable career progress and has received significant recognition. He was named a full professor at Harvard University at the age of 33 and elected to the National Academy of Sciences and the Academy of Arts and Sciences, both at age 44.

His colleagues describe Dr. Jacobsen as a renowned lecturer, teacher and inspirational community servant to students, would-be faculty members, government agencies, private interest and numerous companies. He has published over 233 publications with respected journals such as the Journal of the American Chemical Society, Journal of Organic Chemistry and Angewante Chemie International edition.

Dr. Jacobsen has 15 patents and is the recipient of numerous awards including the Briston-DTC-Syngenta Award, Remsen Award, Fannie-Cox Teaching Award, Nagoya Gold Medal Prize, NIH Merit Award and Camille and Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award.

Dr. Jacobsen has spent time at USF inspiring and mentoring faculty and students during his visit as the inaugural Stewart and Aina Schneller Legacy lecturer in the USF Department of Chemistry.

He earned his B.S. in Chemistry at New York University, his Ph.D. at University of California Berkeley, and carried out postdoctoral studies at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Dr. Melanie Cooper, December 2016

Dr. Melanie CooperDr. Melanie Cooper

December 2016

Honorary Doctor of Science Citation

The University of South Florida today represents an Honorary Doctorate of Science to world renowned chemist and science education pioneer Dr. Melanie Cooper.

Dr. Cooper is currently the Lappan-Phillips Professor of Science Education and Professor of Chemistry at Michigan State University. Her research has focused on improving teaching and learning in large enrollment general and organic chemistry courses at the college level, and she is a proponent of evidence-based curriculum reform and assessment.

Dr. Cooper is a Fellow of the American Chemical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and is a member of the National Research Council Advisory Board on Science Education (BOSE). She was a member of the Leadership team for the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), and has also served on the NRC committees that produced the DBER report and the upcoming report on Undergraduate Research Experiences.

Dr. Cooper has significant ties to the USF Chemistry department having served as a "Martin Lecturer" as well as an invited speaker for STEM symposium and seminar series. During her visits, Dr. Cooper spent many hours discussing with faculty and students best teaching practices for student learning, for recruiting and retaining STEM majors.

Dr. Cooper has received a number of awards including the ACS Award for Achievement in Research on Teaching and Learning in Chemistry (2014), the Norris award for Outstanding Achievement in Teaching of Chemistry (2013), and the Outstanding Undergraduate Science Teacher Award from the Society for College Science Teaching (2011).

She earned her B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Manchester, England.

Dr. Andrew Hamilton, December 2017

Dr. Andrew HamiltonDr. Andrew Hamilton

December 2017

Andrew Hamilton was named the 16th president of New York University—in March 2015. Dr. Hamilton is a noted scientist with an acclaimed record of leadership in higher education. Prior to being named president of NYU, Andrew Hamilton served as the vice chancellor of Oxford University and as professor of chemistry. His tenure as vice chancellor was distinguished by significant improvements in university governance and faculty relations, the enhancement of interdisciplinary research and teaching, restructuring Oxford's medical school and hospital, and substantial expansion of fundraising, among other important initiatives.

Before being named Oxford's vice chancellor, Dr. Hamilton served as provost of Yale University from 2004 to 2008. His period at Yale was marked by major growth and strengthening of the sciences, increased faculty recruitment of women and under-represented minorities and a major update of Yale's undergraduate curriculum.

In addition to his record as an academic leader, Andrew Hamilton is a noted, award-winning, widely published chemist and has continued to maintain scholarly work—including an active research laboratory—while holding leadership positions.

His area of scholarly interest lies at the intersection of organic and biologic chemistry, with particular focus on the use of synthetic design for the understanding, mimicry, and potential disruption of biological processes. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the recipient of the Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award from the American Chemical Society, and the winner of the International Izatt-Christiansen Award for Macrocyclic Chemistry.

Andrew Hamilton received a first class BSc from the University of Exeter, his master's degree from the University of British Columbia, and his doctorate from the University of Cambridge. He did post-doctoral work at the Université Louis Pasteur.