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...and the 2010 winner was ...

portrait of Dr William Buhro

Dr William E Buhro, Washington University

Professor William E Buhro was raised in Portage, Michigan, near Kalamazoo. He earned an AB in Chemistry in 1980 at Hope College, where he was introduced to chemical research on metal-catalyzed cyclopropanation by Michael P Doyle. Buhro began his graduate work with John A Gladysz at UCLA and moved with him to the University of Utah–Salt Lake City in 1982. There he met his wife, Regina Frey, and pursued graduate research in organometallic chemistry, earning a PhD in Organic Chemistry (from UCLA) in 1985. Winner of a Chester Davis Research Fellowship for advanced studies at Indiana University, Buhro was a postdoctoral fellow from 1985-1987 with Malcolm H Chisholm, where he studied metal-phosphorus and metal-metal multiple-bond chemistry.

Buhro joined the Department of Chemistry at Washington University as an assistant professor in 1987. He was named a National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator (1991-1996), and has received three teaching awards. Buhro was Secretary of the American Chemical Society’s Division of Inorganic Chemistry (2005-2007) and since 2002 has served as an Editor of the ACS journal Chemistry of Materials. He was appointed the George E Pake Professor in Arts & Sciences in 2006. In 2010, Buhro assumed the position of Chair of the Department of Chemistry and in July was named a Fellow of the American Chemical Society. (The ACS Fellows Program recognizes members for their contributions to the chemical sciences and outstanding service to the ACS.)

Buhro’s research is in materials chemistry and nanoscience. His research group is best known for discovering the solution-liquid-solid (SLS) synthesis of semiconductor quantum wires. During his Washington University career, Buhro has studied molecular routes to materials, nanocrystalline and nanocomposite materials, and the growth mechanisms of nanoparticles, nanowires, and nanotubes.

Buhro’s wife, Dr Regina Frey, is a Professor of the Practice in the Department of Chemistry and Director of the Teaching Center at Washington University. Buhro and Frey have two sons. Walter, 20, is a sophomore at Washington University planning to major in physics and English. First-grader Jonathan, 7, completed his first triathlon in the summer.

... and the 2009 winner was ...

Photo of Dr Chris Spilling

Dr Christopher D Spilling, University of Missouri–St Louis

Dr Christopher D Spilling came to St Louis in August 1989 to join the faculty of the Chemistry Department at the University of Missouri–St Louis as Assistant Professor. Prior to that he spent three years as a postdoctoral fellow at Northwestern University with Professor Tony Barrett. At UM–St Louis, he was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure in 1996 and in 2001 to Full Professor. During the 1996-97 academic year he was a visiting scholar with Professor Steven V Ley at Cambridge University. Chris was the obvious choice for department chair in 2004 when the former chair, Gordon Anderson, left the University.

An Englishman, he was born in Norwich, East Anglia, and was educated at the University of Loughborough, where he received a BSc degree in chemistry in 1983 and a PhD degree in organic chemistry under the direction of Brian Marples in 1986.

At UM–St Louis, he developed a very productive, high quality research program. He has published about 70 articles, four patents, several chapters, reviews, etc. He has garnered substantial external funding for his research, both from granting agencies and industry, for the support of his graduate students and postdoctoral research associates. He has also presented his work many times at meetings and conferences and has given about 60 invited lectures at other universities. In 1991, the graduate students voted him the best teacher in the chemistry department. Chris has also been an active and contributing participant in the affairs of the St Louis Section of the American Chemical Society. He served as ACS Student Affiliates advisor in his early years at UM–St Louis and since 1994, he has served as the St Louis Section representative to the ACS Midwest Regional Steering Committee. He chaired the 2000 Midwest Regional Meeting in St Louis, a very successful one, and perhaps an important reason the St Louis Section won the Award for Outstanding Performance by a Large Section the following year.

Early in his career he developed a research program that had three foci: the use of phosphorus reagents for asymmetric synthesis, the chemistry of glucal halohydrins and the total synthesis of marine sponge metabolites. More recently his work has taken a more biological bent as the world-wide emphasis in organic chemistry moves in that direction. He and his students are now using their phosphorus chemistry to prepare biologically active molecules and testing them on cell lines and enzymes.

A relatively recent development in his research activity is in entrepreneurship. He has on several occasions consulted with local firms, but recently he and some colleagues founded the company Alkymos in order to fund some collaborative research. A consequence of that is that the University of Missouri System-Wide Faculty Entrepreneur of the Year Award for 2009 went to Professors Wes Harris and Chris Spilling for their work on removal of aluminum from infant feeding solutions. The award was established to honor a University of Missouri faculty member for a record of entrepreneurial innovation that demonstrates commercial utility, contributes to the public welfare, and brings visibility to the University of Missouri.

Chris lives in Bel-Nor with his wife Kathy and three sons Andrew, Robert, and William. He still plays soccer and racquetball and enjoys a beer on Friday evenings with his colleagues.

... and the 2008 winner was ...

Photo of Dr Shelley Minteer

Dr Shelley D Minteer, Saint Louis University

Dr Shelley D Minteer received her BS in Chemistry at Western Illinois University in 1995. She then went to University of Iowa to work on her PhD in Analytical Chemistry under the direction of Dr Johna Leddy. Her graduate work focused on magnetic field effects on electrochemical systems with specific emphasis on magnetically modified electrodes for enhanced electron transfer kinetics.

After graduating in 2000, she joined the faculty of the Department of Chemistry at Saint Louis University as an Assistant Professor. She later received a dual appointment in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. At Saint Louis University, her research program has focused on the development of enzyme immobilization membranes for increased stability of biosensor and biofuel cell electrodes, along with incorporating direct and mediated bioelectrocatalysis into anodes and cathodes. She has recently expanded this bioelectrocatalysis work beyond enzymes to mitochondria and is currently working on developing mitochondria-based biofuel cells and self-powered sensors. She co-founded Akermin, Inc with her former graduate student, Nick Akers, in 2003 to commercialize this technology.

Dr Minteer was promoted to Associate Professor of Chemistry in 2005. She has been the recipient of the Missouri Inventor of the Year Award (2006), Academy of Science of St Louis Innovation Award (2005), Saint Louis University Award for Excellence in Teaching (2004), Society of Electroanalytical Chemists Young Investigator Award (2008), and the Saint Louis University Student Government Association Faculty Excellence Award (2004 and 2006).

... and the 2007 winner was ...

Photo of Dr William Neumann

Dr William L Neumann, Mallinckrodt Imaging

Dr William L Neumann received a BS in Chemistry from the University of Missouri in Columbia in 1983 and a PhD in 1988 from UM–St Louis where he worked with Professor Mike Sworin on synthetic methodologies directed at preparing antitumor cyclopentanoid natural products.

After a nine-month post-doctoral appointment in radiopharmaceutical chemistry at Mallinckrodt Medical, he was hired as a permanent staff scientist. Dr Neumann spent the next four years at Mallinckrodt participating in the development of a 99mTc-based organophosphine complex (Q12) as a human myocardial imaging agent. In 1990, he received the Mallinckrodt President’s Award for Technical Innovation.

In 1991, Dr Neumann moved to Monsanto Corporate Research in the metal-mediated reaction chemistry group, where he played a key role in the design and synthesis of chiral macrocyclic ligand systems for applications to synthetic metalloenzymes such as superoxide dismutase mimetics.

As a result of mergers, Dr Neumann moved his medicinal chemistry group to the chemistry and process technology division of Pharmacia and finally to the parallel medicinal chemistry department of Pharmacia-Pfizer. He was a research group leader during this time and extended his interest in catalysis to the invention and development of new metal-catalyzed cross-coupling protocols for use in the parallel chemistry format. His group was instrumental in the translation of the new Liebeskind-Srogl cross-coupling protocol, developed at Emory University, to the industrial parallel synthesis laboratory.

In 2003 he moved to Metaphore Pharmaceuticals, where he served as Associate Director of Chemistry. At Metaphore, Dr Neumann was responsible for directing all discovery chemistry efforts, giving him the opportunity to extend the synthetic chemistry he invented at Monsanto.

In 2005, Dr Neumann returned to Mallinckrodt Imaging, and is currently developing molecular imaging agents. He is the author of 21 publications, holds 22 US patents in the areas of radiopharmaceuticals, synthetic enzymes, inflammation, antithrombotics, pharmaceutical chemistry and chemistry process research, and has received several Monsanto research awards. Dr Neumann is a reviewer for the Journal of Organic Chemistry, the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry Letters, Organic Letters, and Organometallics. He is also Adjunct Professor in the Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Pulmonary Critical Care and Sleep Medicine, St Louis University.

Bill and his wife Jeannette and daughter Sarah live in Kirkwood. They own a 100-year-old house which is on the National Register, and that has been their major project. They spend most of their free time playing with their daughter and their two black labradors. Both Bill and Jeanette are avid runners and Bill enjoys playing the guitar, and recording with friends, all of whom were at one time Monsanto chemists.

... and the 2006 winner was ...

Photo of Dr James Chickos

Dr James S Chickos, University of Missouri–St Louis

James S Chickos was born in Buffalo, NY, of Greek parents. He received his BS in chemistry at the University of Buffalo, now SUNY–Buffalo, and his Ph D in organic chemistry from Cornell University with Donald G Farnum. After postdoctoral fellowships, first at Princeton with Kurt Mislow and then at Wisconsin–Madison with Bob West he joined the faculty at UM–St Louis where he is now Professor of Chemistry. He was trained as a physical organic chemist and essentially all of his research has been in the area, or close to it. His complete research record is certainly outstanding. He has about 115 publications including refereed articles, invited articles, a textbook and a web-based text. He has lectured extensively abroad and collaborates or has collaborated with many scientists from over a dozen different countries.

During his first few years at UM–St Louis, his research was in the area of unsaturated cyclic ketones, an interest from his graduate and postdoctoral work. Much of his early work was published in JACS as either single-author papers or as collaborations with UM–St Louis colleagues. His work on small ring compounds continued in the 1970s along with his interest in chiral compounds where the chirality derives from the presence of deuterium.

Over the last 22 or so years, Jim’s laboratory has established an international reputation in thermochemistry, leading to many collaborations and publications with scientists in France, Portugal, Russia, England, Spain, Israel, Japan, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Romania, China, Mexico as well as the USA. He and his students’ and collaborators’ efforts in this area have been directed toward developing new, simpler instrumental methods for making thermochemical measurements and applying these techniques to specific compounds. Jim has coupled this effort with a systematic attempt to compile and critically evaluate thermochemical data in the area of organic transport properties. He and his students in the UM–St Louis Chemical Literature class have compiled a valuable collection of thermochemical information that is maintained by the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST). It is available free on line at webbook.nist.gov/chemistry/.

These extensive databases have provided Jim and his students a framework on which to develop mathematical estimation algorithms. The synergistic relationship between the database information and the estimation techniques has had and continues to have an impact in widely divergent areas such as in air and water pollution, pharmaceuticals, protein and even polymer chemistry. The work is of interest and value to chemists, chemical engineers, crystallographers, and physicists who need information on transport properties of the condensed phase. A colleague pointed out that what Jim has done is to make what appears to be a rather dull subject very interesting by his imaginative and innovative approach.

Jim has three children and lives close to the UM–St Louis Campus. He enjoys cycling, playing racquetball and keeping fit when he is not in the office or laboratory.

... and the 2005 winner was ...

Portrait of Wes Harris

Dr Wesley R Harris, University of Missouri–St Louis

Wesley R Harris was born in Vero Beach, Florida, and raised near Wichita Falls, Texas. He attended Texas A&M University where he received both baccalaureate and doctoral degrees in chemistry. His training at Texas A&M was with the late Professor AE Martell.

From there, Wes moved to the University of California–Berkeley to do postdoctoral research with Professor K Raymond. He spent almost three years as an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the Laboratory for Energy-Related Health Research at the University of California–Davis and another four years as Assistant Professor at the University of Idaho, prior to joining the faculty at UM–St Louis as Associate Professor of Chemistry in 1988. In 1995 he was promoted to Professor.

Dr Harris is an inorganic chemist with interests in classical coordination chemistry and also in applications of coordination chemistry to biological problems. The combination of training in classical coordination chemistry with Martel and the study of coordination chemistry related to microbial iron transport with Raymond led to his current activities and expertise.

Most of Wes’ work in recent years has centered on serum transferrin, the transport protein that carries ferric ion between sites of assimilation, storage, and utilization in animals. It is in this area of study that Dr Harris has developed his reputation and it was during the period he was at UC–Davis that he published the first of his many very substantial contributions in this area. An early paper, which appeared in Biochemistry, introduced a very careful measurement method that corrected data in the literature on the binding of transferrin to gallium. These data are relevant to the use of gallium radio-pharmaceuticals. Related work on transferrin chemistry, published when he was at UC–Davis, involved both kinetic and thermodynamic studies of iron removal from transferrin. Since his arrival at UM–St Louis, Dr Harris has continued his productive research program in bioinorganic chemistry.

Dr Harris is an expert in speciation and biodistribution of metals in humans and has developed excellent models to study this. His principal research contribution, however, continues to be the study of iron transport by serum transferrin and extensions to the transport of other metals in humans. Since the metals involved are toxic, the focus of the work relates to human health, and has been funded by the National Institutes of Health and companies involved in life science and biomedical areas.

His record includes almost 100 refereed publications, half of which were published since he came to St Louis. In addition to his research at UM–St Louis, he has been instrumental in developing the biochemistry emphasis area and designing the new degree programs in biochemistry and biotechnology. Wes, his wife Marion, and their son Jonathan live in Creve Coeur.