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BC's Scott One Of 96 American Chemical Society Fellows

For The Heights

Published: Thursday, September 13, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01

At the American Chemical Society’s (ACS) National Meeting in Philadelphia on Aug. 20, Lawrence T. Scott was one of 96 chemists honored as a Fellow of the American Chemical Society. The ceremony was hosted by former ACS president Nancy B. Jackson.

“ACS is especially proud to honor these chemists, who have given so much to the community and the profession,” Jackson said. “They are leaders whose work is having a lasting beneficial impact, not just on science but also on the ACS community.”
Beginning in 2009, the ACS Fellows Program has honored ACS members for “outstanding achievements in and contributions to science, the profession, and the society.” To qualify for selection, members must be nominated after having demonstrated significant leadership both professionally and through volunteer service.

Scott was nominated by Robert Larson, chairman of the Division of Organic Chemistry at the ACS. Nobel Prize winner Roald Hoffmann of Cornell University and Robert McMahon of the University of Wisconsin, both ACS Fellows, seconded the nomination.

The ACS, the world’s largest scientific society, has designated fewer than a half a percent of its 164,000 members with the fellowship.

Scott is also the chair-elect of the Division of Organic Chemistry at ACS. Studying novel organic compounds, Scott’s research aims at finding the relationship between the structure and properties of molecules.

Fullerenes, a recent focus of his work, are a form of pure carbon that were first discovered by accident as the soccer ball-shaped “buckyball” in 1985, until which there were no known pure carbon compounds beyond diamonds and graphite.

The discovery excited the scientific community, particularly in fields such as optics, nanotechnology, and materials science, and scientists have been exploring the application of fullerenes and related compounds for purposes ranging from curing cancer to improving armor to making superconductors.

There had been a dearth of ways, however, to isolate and control the compounds within the fullerene family. The paucity was solved with Scott’s groundbreaking success in the “rational synthesis” of fullerenes, producing quantities that could be isolated. Now, the laboratory is aiming to apply lessons learned toward isolating the related carbon nanotubes.

In line with the spirit of the fellowship, Scott’s contributions to society parallel his accomplishments as a scientist, since working in the classroom similarly involves interpreting properties in the context of structures, albeit in a human regard. Here, new ideas and pursuits may well begin as the discovery of the fullerenes did, as a byproduct of the collision of energy with familiar materials. It is up to the skills and vision of the professor to synthesize and isolate useful products in inspiring and productive ways.

A native of Ann Arbor, Mich., Scott received his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Princeton University in 1966 and his Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Harvard University in 1970. He has since taught at UCLA and the University of Nevada before joining the faculty at Boston College in 1993, where he now serves as associate chair of the chemistry department and holds the Louise and Jim Vanderslice and Family Chair in Chemistry. He has published over 200 papers, largely in top journals such as Science, Nature, Chemical Reviews, The Journal of Organic Chemistry, and Angewandte Chemie.

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