UT Arlington professor to become American Chemical Society fellow

The American Chemical Society has named UT Arlington chemistry and biochemistry professor Daniel Armstrong to its 2013 Class of Fellows, recognizing his innovative achievements in the lab as well as his effective, engaging outreach projects.

Armstrong, UT Arlington’s Robert A. Welch Chair in Chemistry, has authored more than 550 publications, including 29 book chapters and one book, and holds 20 U.S. patents. His development of new methods for separating chemical mixtures in solution or as gas has led to advances in realms of science essential to pharmaceutical drug development and disease identification and treatment. For example, he is considered the “father” of pseudophase separations, a type of liquid chromatography that provides higher selectivity for substances with lower cost and less volatility and toxicity than previous analytical methods.

In naming him a fellow, the Society also noted Armstrong’s contribution to the community-at-large. Those include the founding of a syndicated National Public Radio show on science and his mentoring of more than 100 graduate students, many of whom were the first in their families to pursue college degrees.

“Dr. Armstrong’s incredible body of work represents the epitome of the research excellence and trailblazing dedication we encourage our students and professors to aspire to,” said UT Arlington President Vistasp Karbhari. “His recognition as a fellow is exceedingly well-deserved.”

The American Chemical Society is the world’s largest scientific society with more than 163,000 members. Armstrong was among 96 members named to its 2013 Class of Fellows, the Society recently announced. They will be honored at an induction ceremony at the 246th ACS National Meeting in September in Indianapolis.

In addition to his introduction of the pseudophase concept, the ACS award citation for Armstrong also noted his “central role in the enantiomeric separations/chiral recognition revolution” and his achievement in characterizing and synthesizing ionic liquids. Enantiomeric separation is a way of differentiating chiral molecules - those with “left-handed” and “right-handed” sides. Their differentiation is important in drug development, because, for example, only the left-handed molecule may have the desired effect, while the right-handed molecule may be inactive or even have toxic side effects.  Ionic liquids consist of a mixture of negatively and positively charged species.  They are often safer than neutral liquids because they are less volatile and certain syntheses can only be done in ionic liquids

E. Thomas Strom, adjunct professor of chemistry at UT Arlington and a 2009 ACS Fellow, nominated Armstrong for the honor. Along with Armstrong’s myriad professional scientific accomplishments, Strom also praised Armstrong’s ability to communicate both through the written word and orally.

“Chemists who focus on achieving a high status research program often forget their obligations to grow and nurture the profession.  Dan has not forgotten his debt to chemistry,” Strom said. “He exemplifies the type of person who ought to be an ACS Fellow.”

Armstrong’s efforts to spread the word about chemistry applications have been continuous throughout his career, including numerous courses at scientific conferences and outreach efforts like ACS radio spots. He developed the “We’re Science” radio show while working at the University of Missouri –Rolla, along with a local NPR affiliate. Known for its humorous, but well-researched style, the show was broadcast on 140 NPR stations and the U.S. Armed Forces Radio Network.

Recently, Armstrong made headlines nationwide in publications such as The Wall Street Journal with his examination of popular workout boosters containing a substance known as DMAA, a product that some worried was having dangerous side effects. By applying sophisticated lab tests, he found that it was unlikely that the DMAA came from natural sources, as many companies claimed.

Many companies voluntarily stopped using DMAA soon after, but in April 2013, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration sent an enforcement letter to holdouts who were still defending the now controversial substance. The letter quoted the work of Armstrong and others.

Armstrong also is a past winner of the Chirality Gold Medal, the ACS Award in Chromatography, The Chromatographic Society’s Martin Medal, the ACS Helen M. Free Award for Public Outreach and numerous other honors.

Daniel Armstrong is an example of the outstanding faculty at The University of Texas at Arlington, a comprehensive research institution of about 33,800 students and more than 2,200 faculty members in the heart of North Texas.  It is the second largest institution in The University of Texas System. Visit www.uta.edu to learn more.

Media contact: Traci Peterson, tpeterso@uta.edu, 817-272-9208

The University of Texas at Arlington, www.uta.edu