Athens, Ga. – The Southeastern Universities Research Association announced Henry F. Schaefer III, Graham Perdue Professor of Chemistry at the University of Georgia, will receive its 2012 SURA Distinguished Scientist Award.
The annual honor goes to a research scientist whose extraordinary work fulfills the SURA mission of “fostering excellence in scientific research.” The award and its $20,000 honorarium will be presented to Schaefer on March 29 in conjunction with the SURA Board of Trustees meeting being held at the University of South Florida in Tampa.
In more than 30 years of academic service, Schaefer has focused his field of study on using theoretical and computational methods to better understand the movement and function of electrons in molecules and the application of insights gained to areas of broad chemical interest, including atmospheric chemistry, combustion and organic chemistry.
His list of publications number over 1,300 with the vast majority in the field’s highest quality journals. In their letter of nomination, UGA President Michael F. Adams and Vice President for Research David Lee noted, “Collectively, his publications have been cited more than 50,000 times, making him one of the most highly cited chemists (as well as scientists) in the world.” He has also given plenary lectures at more than 240 scientific conferences and named/endowed lectures at more than 50 universities worldwide.
A native of Michigan, Schaefer received his bachelor’s degree in chemical physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and doctorate in the same field from Stanford University. He served as a professor of chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley from 1969 to 1987.
In 1987, he was appointed Graham Perdue Professor of Chemistry and director of the Center for Computational Quantum Chemistry at UGA. Through his career, he has accepted numerous academic appointments including at UC Berkeley, the University of Paris, the Eidgenössische Technische Hochshule in Zürich and the Australian National University.
In 2004, 300 scientists from 35 countries gathered in Gyeongju, Korea, for a six-day conference on “Theory and Applications of Computational Chemistry: A Celebration of 1000 Papers of Professor Henry F. Schaefer III.” And in 2010, UC Berkeley honored Schaefer with an international conference titled “Molecular Quantum Mechanics: From Methylene to DNA and Beyond.”
Among his many awards and honors, Schaefer has been recognized by the American Chemical Society with its Award in Pure Chemistry (1979), the Leo Hendrik Baekeland Award (1983), the Award in Theoretical Chemistry and the annual Ira Remsen Award (2003). He received the Schrödinger Medal (1990), the Centenary Medal of the Royal Society of Chemistry (1992), the prestigious Joseph O. Hirschfelder Prize from the University of Wisconsin (2005) and the Ide P. Trotter Prize of Texas A&M University (2011). The Journal of Physical Chemistry published a special issue in honor of Schaefer in 2004. He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2004), the Royal Society of Chemistry in London (2005) and was among the inaugural class of Fellows of the American Chemical Society (2009).
In their nomination letter, Adams and Lee added, “Fritz is always quick to credit a steady stream of brilliant trainees and colleagues over the past 30 years.” As preceptor and mentor, he’s had 58 undergraduate researchers publish papers with him, 97 successful doctoral students and 48 postdoctoral fellows.
The SURA Distinguished Scientist Award was established in 2007 commemorating the organization’s 25th anniversary. Susan Wessler, a UGA professor of plant sciences at the time, received the inaugural award. SURA’s development and relations committee manages the solicitation, screening and selection of the recipient from a SURA member institution. The president of each of SURA’s 62 member research universities is eligible to make one nomination for the Distinguished Scientist Award.