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October 27, 2005

F. Albert Cotton Receives Sigma Xi's Monie Ferst Award

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC -- The winner of Sigma Xi’s 2005 Monie A. Ferst Award has been a household name among chemists for nearly 50 years.

A recipient of the National Medal of Science, F. Albert Cotton holds the W. T. Doherty-Welch Foundation Chair in Chemistry at Texas A&M University and is director of the Laboratory for Molecular Structure and Bonding there.

His career as a research chemist and a participant in developing major aspects of national science policy has received considerable recognition.

A member of the National Academy of Sciences, Cotton has won all of the significant medals of the American Chemical Society?the Priestly Medal and Robert A. Welch Award among them. He also received the 2000 Wolf Prize in Chemistry, one of the world’s premier science awards.

But colleagues say another phase of his career has not received nearly enough recognition. And it is one in which Cotton has taken special satisfaction, namely the teaching and promoting of future generations of academic chemists.

Administered by the Georgia Institute of Technology Chapter of Sigma Xi, the Monie A. Ferst Award is presented annually to those who have made notable contributions to the motivation and encouragement of research through education.

The award consists of a medal and $5,000 and is given to a scientist who has inspired his or her colleagues to significant scientific achievements. It is usually presented during a daylong symposium focusing on the achievements of the winner’s former doctoral students.

Over Cotton’s career, 111 young men and women have received their doctoral degrees under his supervision and nearly half have become academics. He has also been a dedicated mentor to postdoctoral fellows, 64 of which hold academic positions in the U.S. and 16 in other countries.

His second major contribution to chemistry education has been in the writing of textbooks, at every level from high school to postgraduate study.

Widely used at home and abroad, these include the high school text Chemistry, An Investigative Approach, plus college texts on basic and advanced inorganic chemistry, as well as his pioneering Chemical Applications of Group Theory.

After receiving his bachelor's degree in chemistry from Temple University and his Ph.D. from Harvard, Cotton taught at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for 17 years before coming to Texas A&M in 1972.

A major contributor to several areas of chemistry, he discovered the existence of double, triple and quadruple metal-metal bonds. His work has added valuable knowledge to chemistry, physics, biochemistry, molecular engineering and chemical engineering.

A recent citation from Ohio State University read in part: “Through his highly regarded textbooks and his skill as a mentor, he has shared his knowledge with the world’s scientific community and with his many students. As both dedicated scholar and innovative teacher, he is without peer.”

Cotton and his family live on a ranch near College Station, where his daughter Jennifer raises, breeds, trains and shows horses. Horses are one of his passions in life. He has ridden since his early 20s.


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