Article by Ann Manser Photo by Evan Krape July 20, 2018
Burnaby Munson, the C. Eugene Bennett Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, who taught thousands of students over 50 years at the University of Delaware, has been named a fellow of the American Chemical Society (ACS).
Munson, who taught his final class last year and will retire effective Sept. 1, was one of 51 new fellows selected for the honor, which recognizes outstanding achievements in and contributions to science, the profession and the society.
The 2018 fellows were announced in the July 16 issue of Chemical and Engineering News and will be celebrated at the ACS national meeting in Boston in August.
A pioneer in, and former director of, the UD Honors Program, Munson has received numerous awards recognizing his contributions to his profession and the University, including the Medal of Distinction in 2002, the Francis Alison Award in 1992 and several teaching awards.
In a profile in its August 2017 issue, the UD Messenger magazine calculated that Munson taught some 46,000 students in more than 8,000 class sessions since joining the University faculty in 1967.
He “leaves behind a legacy of educational excellence and a cadre of students, both undergraduate and graduate, who have, through coaxing, cajoling, threatening and patience, developed an appreciation for chemistry and its place in the world,” Prof. Cecil Dybowski wrote in the latest issue of the newsletter Blue Hen Chemist.
An analytical and physical chemist, Munson conducted research focused on mass spectrometry, a field on which he has had an important impact and for which he received numerous awards recognizing his contributions and outstanding achievements.
His research was the first cited by the Nobel committee in the award of the 2002 Nobel Prize to John Fenn and Koichi Tanaka. Munson’s work on chemical ionization mass spectrometry has made it possible to obtain informative mass spectra of high-molecular weight and sensitive compounds.
In 2015, he published a paper in the International Journal of Mass Spectrometry titled “CIMS, Chemistry in Mass Spectrometry,” which summarized the work he did with Frank Field and other colleagues on chemical reactions that occur in mass spectrometers between ions and molecules.
Munson earned his doctorate in physical chemistry in 1959 from the University of Texas at Austin, after also studying at the University of Wisconsin. He worked for Esso (now Exxon) Research and Engineering as a research chemist until joining UD in 1967.
At the University, he taught in the Honors Program from 1976 until his retirement and also served on its advisory board in the 1970s and ’80s. He was the program’s acting director and then director for many years in the 1980s. At Alumni Weekend 2017, the Honors Program celebrated his contributions to students with a special reception.