Bowman-James, Grunewald elected fellows of influential science society

American Chemical Society honors profs in second year of fellowships

Two KU faculty members have been elected fellows of the American Chemical Society, an honor given to the most influential and respected chemists in academia, industry and government.

Gary Grunewald, professor of medicinal chemistry, and Kristin-Bowman James, Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, were among the 2010 class of fellows elected by the society. Several other recipients are KU alums or have ties to the university.

This year’s class of fellows is only the second for the organization, the world’s largest science society.

“Whether it’s making new materials, finding cures for disease or developing energy alternatives, these fellows are scientific leaders, improving our lives through the transforming power of chemistry,” said Joseph S. Francisco, American Chemical Society president. “They are also consummate volunteers who contribute tirelessly to the community and the profession.”

Kristin Bowman-James

Kristin Bowman-James

Bowman-James was nominated by the inorganic chemistry division of the American Chemical Society. She has been a KU faculty member since 1975 and has been involved with the society since 1968. She was the first female chair of KU’s Department of Chemistry and has received numerous honors throughout her career, including the Kansas Dolph Simons Sr. Award for Research Achievement and the Midwest Award for Research in Chemistry provided by the St. Louis section of the American Chemical Society.

Being selected as a fellow so early in the selection process was an honor she said, considering the thousands of members and contributors to the society.

“I was very honored,” Bowman-James said of being selected. “This is only the second year, so it’s a very prestigious honor to be inducted this early.”

Bowman-James’ research focuses on anions and designing molecules that can recognize and capture anionic species. She is widely recognized for her work in supramolecular chemistry and contributions to development of receptors for anionic species.

She is the director of the Kansas NSF EPSCoR (Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research), a collaborative research project founded by a $20 million grant from the National Science Foundation. The partnership brings Kansas universities together to focus on global climate change and renewable energy research.

Gary Grunewald

Gary Grunewald

Grunewald joined the KU faculty in 1966 after earning bachelor’s degrees in chemistry and pharmacy at Washington State University and a doctorate from the University of Wisconsin. He has won numerous awards for his teaching and research while at KU, including the Higuchi/Simons Research Achievement Award for research excellence in biomedical sciences and was an inaugural member of the American Chemical Society Division of Medicinal Chemistry’s hall of fame. Previously he had been named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists. He has also chaired KU’s Department of Medicinal Chemistry and served as Interim Dean of the School of Pharmacy.

“It’s a humbling experience,” Grunewald said of being named a fellow. “Many of the names on the list I recognize and to be included in their company is an honor.”

The medicinal chemistry division of the society nominated Grunewald for the honor. His research focuses on studies of neurotransmitters and drugs that affect them in the central nervous system. Drug molecules can take many shapes, but presumably only one is needed to be most effective. His research group works to find ways to hold molecules to the desired shape. Recently he has also focused on epinephrine and its role in the central nervous system.

Three KU graduates also were elected fellows. They are:

Michelle Buchanan, associate laboratory director in physical sciences at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, was also among those elected. She earned a bachelor’s in chemistry from KU.

Dale Boger of the Scripps Research Institute, a KU grad and former faculty member, was also elected.

Lisa McElwee White, a faculty member at the University of Florida, another recently elected fellow, is also a KU alumna.

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