Four Virginia Tech faculty, including three from the College of Science and one from the College of Engineering, have been named Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world’s largest scientific society.

Timothy Long and Joseph S. Merola, professors with the Department of Chemistry, and J. Donald Rimstidt, a professor emeritus in the Department of Geosciences, all of Science, and S. Ted Oyama, a professor of Chemical Engineering, are among 347 scholars being elected to the association in 2015.

“Professors Timothy Long, Joseph Merola, and Donald Rimstidt are integral members of the entire science community,” said Lay Nam Chang, dean of the College of Science. “Their research efforts can be found in industry and health care, and our growing knowledge of the planet we call home, and some of the planets we call neighbors. Their students, past and present, are integral members of society as well, helping invent the future. These honors from the American Association for Advancement of Science are well deserved.”

Added Richard C. Besnon, dean of the College of Engineering, “Ted Oyama has long been a dedicated member of the College of Engineering faculty, gaining worldwide recognition for his work, and local recognition from his peers here at Virginia Tech with a Alumni Award for Research Excellence.”

Fellowships are awarded for an individual’s scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications. The honorees will be presented with an official certificate and a gold and blue rosette pin (the colors representing science and engineering, respectively) on Feb. 13, 2016, at the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s (AAAS) annual meeting in Washington, D.C.  Their names will be formally announced in the AAAS News & Notes section of the journal Science to be released on Nov. 27.

Timothy E. Long

Long is being recognized for his distinguished contributions in the field of macromolecular science and engineering, particularly for the synthesis and characterization of novel polymeric compositions and structure-property relationships.

Director of the university’s Macromolecules Interfaces Institute, which leverages the resources of the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science, Long is a Ph.D. alumnus of Virginia Tech. He spent 10 years as a research scientist at Eastman Kodak Co. before returning to Blacksburg as a professor. His collaborative work with such companies as BASF and IBM has resulted in years of support between the private sector and the university.

Long has received more than $41 million in research funding and is well known recently for research work within the burgeoning sector of materials for additive manufacturing, or 3-D printing. He has more than 40 patents in macromolecular science and engineering, and has published 22 book chapters and more than 220 peer-reviewed publications. He teaches at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, including undergraduate organic chemistry and interdisciplinary courses in the new nanoscience degree within the College of Science, and is dedicated to creating graduate courses that are open and conversational between students and faculty.

Among his many awards and honors, Long was selected as one of three Virginia Outstanding Scientists for 2015 by Gov. Terry McAuliffe, received the Robert L. Patrick Fellowship Award in 2014, American Chemical Society Cooperative Research Award, and has been inducted as an American Chemical Society Fellow.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from St. Bonaventure University.

Joseph S. Merola

Merola is being honored for outstanding contributions in the area of inorganic and organometallic chemistry and for distinguished service in university teaching and administration.

Among his more recent breakthroughs, Merola was part of a Virginia Tech team to discover a new group of antibiotics believed to target staph infections and the antibiotic resistant strains commonly known as MRSA, short for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Such infections were responsible for nearly 10,000 deaths in the United States in 2013 alone. Millions more are sickened by the bacteria, adding to health care costs and other difficulties. Merola worked on the project through his affiliation with the university’s Fralin Life Science Institute.

Since joining Virginia Tech in 1987, Merola has remained a favorite professor among thousands of students. He is highly regarded for bringing innovation to the classroom. In 2013, he received the university’s 2013 William E. Wine Award, an honor voted on by students, faculty, and alumni. Additional honors include three college Certificates of Teaching Excellence and the Alumni Award for Teaching Excellence, and a membership in university’s Academy of Teaching Excellence.

He received a bachelor’s degree from Carnegie-Mellon University and a doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Before coming to Virginia Tech, Merola worked as a senior research chemist for Exxon’s Corporate Research and Engineering Co.

S. Ted Oyama

Oyama, also on faculty at the University of Tokyo, is well known for his research into catalytic fuel processing, selective oxidation of hydrocarbons, volatile organic compound elimination, steam reforming, and membrane processes. He has developed heterogeneous catalysts and advanced inorganic membranes.

Among his numerous awards and honors are the Distinguished Researcher Award in Petroleum Chemistry and Storch Award in Fuel Science, both from the American Chemistry Society in 2014, and a 2009 Alumni Award for Research Excellence, and a 2008 Humboldt Research Award from the Alexander Humboldt Foundation of Germany.

Oyama entered academia after working at Catalytica Inc. In 1988, he became associate professor of chemical engineering at Clarkson University, and then in 1993 joined Virginia Tech. He has served as editor of the Journal of Catalysis, the highest-ranked chemical engineering journal. 

Oyama received his bachelor’s degree from Yale University and a master’s degree and Ph.D. from Stanford University.

J. Donald Rimstidt

Retired since 2010, Rimstidt is being honored for distinguished contributions to the field of hydrothermal geochemistry and kinetics, particularly for developing a rigorous understanding of the Earth’s surface geochemical processes. His research has been widely varied, from looking at the possibility of water once existing on Mars in a 2004 study, to studying the environmental impact of lead bullets left in outdoors, including at or near recreational shooting ranges.

During a 30-year career at Virginia Tech, Rimsidt made significant research contributions in the field of geochemistry. He is author of the book Geochemical Rate Models, has published more than 100 research papers, co-authored the Resource Geology lab manual, and was contributing editor to various book chapters. He served as associate editor of Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, the journal of The Geochemical Society and The Meteoritical Society. Among his honors is a Fellowship with the Mineralogical Society of America.

As a professor, Rimstidt taught a wide range of geosciences courses ranging from freshman to advanced graduate level. He also advised and counseled numerous undergraduate and graduate students and served at the graduate advisor for master's and doctoral students. Rimstidt also served as a department chair, an assistant chair, and on numerous departmental committees.

Rimstidt received his bachelor’s degree from Purdue University, a master’s degree from Indiana University, and a Ph.D. from Pennsylvania State University.

The tradition of AAAS Fellows began in 1874. Members are considered for a Fellowship if nominated by the steering groups of the Association’s 24 sections, or by any three Fellows who are current AAAS members so long as two of the three sponsors are not affiliated with the nominee’s institution, or by the AAAS chief executive officer.

The nonprofit AAAS describes itself as the world’s largest general scientific society dedicated to advancing science and serving society through initiatives in science policy, international programs, science education, and more. It publisher of the journal Science, as well as Science Translational Medicine and Science Signaling. AAAS was founded in 1848, and includes 254 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals.

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.


    Share this story