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Chemist William Jones elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

April 28, 2021
portrait of William Jones in his office.William Jones. (University of Rochester photo / J. Adam Fenster)

The Rochester chemistry professor is known for his groundbreaking research on carbon-hydrogen bonds, which has led to new methods for converting hydrocarbons into chemicals found in useful, everyday products.

University of Rochester chemist William Jones has received one of the nation’s highest honors for his work studying carbon-hydrogen bonds.

Jones, the Charles F. Houghton Professor of Chemistry, is one of 252 artists, scholars, scientists, and executives in the public, nonprofit, and private sectors inducted into the 2021 class of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the nation’s most highly regarded honors for artistic, academic, and scientific leaders who engage in advancing the public good.

Jones’s research focuses on the synthesis, structure, and reactivity of carbon-element bonds, which has led to the discovery of new methods for converting hydrocarbons into chemicals found in everyday products. Recently, Jones and his lab discovered a novel method of converting ethanol to butanol without producing unwanted byproducts, making engine fuel more efficient and less corrosive and reducing harmful emissions.

Jones has received multiple awards for his research, including the 2017 Organometallic Chemistry Award from the Royal Society of Chemistry and a 2018 Alexander von Humboldt Senior Research Award. He has also received several honors for teaching graduates and undergraduates at Rochester, including the 2009 Edward Peck Curtis Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching and the 2019 William H. Riker University Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching. He is a fellow of the American Chemical Society and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and has served as an associate editor for the Journal of the American Chemical Society since 2003.

Jones received his PhD in chemistry at the California Institute of Technology and served as a National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellow at the University of Wisconsin before joining the Rochester faculty in 1980.

Academy includes Rochester presidents, faculty, and alumni across disciplines

Founded in 1780 by John Adams, John Hancock, and others, the Academy was established to honor exceptionally accomplished individuals and to recognize excellence and expertise and the role they play in American public life.

As a member of the academy, Jones joins several University community members who have previously been inducted. A sample list includes University President Sarah Mangelsdorf; former University President Joel Seligman; current faculty members Richard Eisenberg, the Tracy H. Harris Professor Emeritus in the Department of Chemistry; Joanna Scott, the Roswell Smith Burrows Professor of English; Stanley Engerman, the John H. Munro Professor Emeritus in the Department of Economics; Michael Tanenhaus, the Beverly Petterson Bishop and Charles W. Bishop Professor of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and Linguistics; John (Jack) Werren, the Nathaniel and Helen Wisch Professor of Biology; and Lynne Maquat, the J. Lowell Orbison Distinguished Service Alumni Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics. Former faculty members who were inducted include the late Richard Fenno Jr., Distinguished University Professor Emeritus in the Department of Political Science; the late Esther Conwell ’45 (MA), a research professor of chemistry and physics; and the late poet Anthony Hecht.

Alumni members include the late Nobel Prize laureate Arthur Kornberg ’41M (MD); operatic soprano and Grammy Award winner Renée Fleming ’83E (MM); Grammy-winning composer Maria Schneider ’85E (MM); the late Donald Henderson ’54M (MD), an epidemiologist who led the worldwide effort to eradicate smallpox; and John (Jack) Rowe ’70M (MD), the Julius B. Richmond Professor of Health Policy and Aging at the Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.

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a gas pump with a sticker that says MAY CONTAIN UP TO 10% ETHANOLMore efficient way of converting ethanol leads to better alternative fuel
A research team led by chemistry professor William Jones has developed a series of reactions that results in the selective conversion of ethanol to butanol, without producing unwanted byproducts.
portrait of President Sarah Mangelsdorf.
President Sarah Mangelsdorf elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

President Sarah Mangelsdorf has been elected to one of the nation’s most highly regarded academic organizations, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.


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Category: Science & Technology