UNT researcher named prestigious fellow of scientific society

Dr. Weston Borden
Welch Chair, Chemistry Department
Monday, August 17, 2009

DENTON (UNT), Texas -- Wes Borden, the Robert A. Welch Professor of Chemistry at the University of North Texas, was named to the inaugural class of Fellows of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society.

Being elected a Fellow places Borden among 162 chemists across the United States from universities and academic institutions, industry and government who have been honored with this designation. Of the honorees, 72 percent come from academia and represent universities such as Columbia, Harvard, Yale, University of Texas at Austin and Texas A & M University.

The new Fellows program of the 154,000-member society is designed to recognize members who have shown excellence in their contributions to chemical research and given distinguished service to the field of chemistry.

"It is quite humbling to be included in a small group that contains some of the country's best researchers in the field of chemistry," Borden said.

In his research, Borden uses computers to understand and predict the behavior of molecules. He calls it "curiosity-driven research."

"The 'why' instead of the 'how' has always captured my interest," he said. "It is why I got into science in the first place. We researchers are very blessed. We get paid to do work we would gladly do for free if we had independent incomes."

Borden also does research of a more applied nature. He is one of the principal investigators in the National Science Foundation's Center for Enabling New Technologies through Catalysis. CENTC brings together researchers across North America to address the economic, environmental and national security needs for more efficient, inexpensive and environmentally friendly methods of producing chemicals and fuels from a variety of feedstocks.

Borden has served the chemical community as associate editor of the Journal of American Chemical Society for the past 10 years. He currently handles the peer review for about 400 manuscripts each year. He also has organized several international chemistry research conferences.

"Wes Borden's recognition as a Fellow of the American Chemical Society is well-deserved," said Angela Wilson, associate professor of chemistry. He is a leading expert in the application of quantum chemical methods to organic chemistry and is recognized as the world's foremost expert in the electronic structure of biradicals."

Borden received his bachelor, master and doctoral degrees from Harvard University, where he served for five years as an assistant professor. Before coming to UNT in 2004, Borden worked at the University of Washington for more than 30 years. At UNT, Borden is a member of the Center for Advanced Scientific Computational and Modeling.

He has been a recipient of fellowships from the Sloan, Guggenheim and Humboldt foundations and from the Japanese Society for Promotion of Science. He has been a visiting professor at Princeton and Heidelberg universities and at the Institute for Molecular Science in Okazaki, Japan. Among his other honors, Borden has been named an Arthur C. Cope Scholar by the American Chemical Society and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

The ACS publishes numerous scientific journals and databases, convenes major research conferences and provides education, science policy and career programs in chemistry. The society gives more than $22 million annually in grants from basic research and petroleum and related fields.

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