Chemical Society Honors Ross Kelly

By Michael Seele
Chronicle Editor

In recognition of a career that combines cutting-edge research with excellent teaching, the American Chemical Society has presented Vanderslice Professor of Chemistry T. Ross Kelly with its prestigious Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award.

The honor, which is presented to no more than 10 chemists nationally each year, includes a $25,000 unrestricted research grant. Kelly, 53, is one of only four chemists in the award's over-50 age category to be honored this year.

"This is certainly an honor for our colleague Ross Kelly and our department," said Prof. Paul Davidovits, the Chemistry chairman. "It is one of the most prestigious awards in organic chemistry and testifies to the wonderful work Ross has been doing in that field, and to the direction the department has taken in recent years."

Kelly's nomination, submitted by Yale chemist Harry Wasserman, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, stated that his "research accomplishments are characterized by uncommon breadth ... In addition, he is a highly regarded teacher and is well known for his lecture demonstrations."

Chemical and Engineering News quoted an unnamed colleague, who said, "Kelly is one of the most imaginative chemists out there. Every one of his papers is characterized by a high order of creativity and individuality. This is not a man who follows trends. This is a man who sets the pace."

                                                Vanderslice Professor   
                                             T. Ross Kelly.

Kelly was the first to synthesize the anti-cancer agent fredericamycin A, one of many accomplishments in a wide-ranging career. More recently, he created a molecular "brake," which can stop the rotation of a certain molecule, an innovation which has implications for possible atomic-scale machines.

Kelly said the award is not just a personal honor, but a reflection of the growing stature of the Boston College Chemistry Department.

"It is a recognition of the work we are doing, and the work we are able to do, at BC," he said. "One of the things I'm happy about is that there are clearly other people in the department who are good enough to win this award in the future."

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