|Posted by David Gottfried on February 10, 2017 at 3:15 PM|
By Rigoberto Hernandez
The Georgia Section has a deep history in recognizing research and service toward the advancement of chemistry in the nation’s service. The first of the Herty Medals was awarded in 1933 to Fred Allison. Charles Herty was honored with the award in the following year. As of September 16th, 2016, we have now awarded 82 gold medals to deserving chemists in the southeastern United States. The most recent Medalist was Prof. Brooks Pate from the University of Virginia who was recognized for "his work in revolutionizing molecular rotational spectroscopy and its applications in astrochemistry and analytical chemistry and for his service in mentoring diverse students through a summer undergraduate research program.” His seminar illustrated how his key insight of spectral theory allowed him to develop an approach for capturing the spectral in a single experiment rather than using a series of single frequency measurements. The speed and accuracy of this technique has played a key role in reimagining the field of astrochemistry. On a personal level, I was pleased to see Brooks again after we had been lab mates in Kevin Lehmann’s laboratory at Princeton. I was an undergraduate while I saw him sail through his candidacy exams. On a different, personal level, this most recent Herty Medal dinner also marked the last dinner for which I chaired the corresponding selection committee. The list of nominees is outstanding and this made settling on a finalist even more difficult. Nevertheless, with the able help of my committee colleagues, we developed a process that allowed us to sort through the candidates carefully and thoughtfully. We pre-screened all the applicants electronically prior to our in-person meeting. The two- to three-hour discussion led to a deeper understanding of the candidates, and often resulted in a final choice that our individual assessments had rarely predicted. During my term as Chair of the Committee, we also had the opportunity to stage the 75th Herty Medal celebration though which we staged several activities to reach out to students and professionals of all ages. The Herty Medal Undergraduate Research Symposium (HMURS) continue to support our Section’s diverse undergraduates. Thus, I am very proud of what our section has accomplished, and thankful to the section for letting me be a part of it. I also look forward to celebrating the 100th Herty Medalist in 2034! Mark your calendars now!