College of Science

Armstrong to receive American Chemical Society honor

UT Arlington professor Daniel W. Armstrong will receive his second national award from the American Chemical Society in March, honoring his landmark contributions to the field of analytical separations.

The ACS Award in Separations Science and Technology, which is sponsored by Waters Corp., recognizes “the development of novel applications with major impacts and/or the practical implementations of modern advancements in the field of separation science and technology.” It will be presented at the ACS national conference in Dallas on March 17.

“Throughout his career, Dr. Armstrong has worked to increase our understanding of the world around us through development of new instruments and analytical methods,” said Ronald L. Elsenbaumer, UT Arlington provost and vice president for academic affairs. "His international reputation has elevated the College of Science and the University overall, and we are pleased to see this recognition of his contributions.”

Armstrong, who holds the UT Arlington Robert A. Welch Chair in Chemistry, joined UT Arlington in 2006. Throughout his career, he has developed more than 30 different types of columns used in chromatography, the science of separating molecules in gas or liquid for analysis.

The commercial applications of his inventions have been wide-ranging - including use by the drug development, petrochemical and environmental monitoring community. In addition, Armstrong is the author of more than 550 scientific publications, including 29 book chapters and holds 23 U.S. and international patents.

“One of the strengths of our group is we come with new things to explore constantly, which is fun,” Armstrong said. He added that evidence his work is influencing and helping other scientific endeavors - such as the 27,000 scientific citations his lab has achieved - is a gratifying result.

“You want to do things that have an impact and are useful, either adding knowledge, insight or something practical that people can actually use,” he said.

Armstrong is often called 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 addition, he has been heralded for his work synthesizing ionic liquids, which have more advanced separation capabilities for a variety of important molecules.

In another example of his influence, a gas chromatography column that Armstrong developed is one of three that are part of the Rosetta mission of the European Space Agency. The goal of the Rosetta mission, launched in 2004, is to orbit a comet and land scientific equipment on it in fall 2014, in order to explore the composition of the comet and learn more about the origins of the universe.

Most recently, Armstrong has been working on improving methods for detecting performance-enhancing drugs such as those used in the sports world.

The 2014 ACS awards were announced in the January issue of Chemical & Engineering News in an article where several colleagues praised Armstrong, his innovations and his dedication to training and mentoring more than 170 students, postdoctoral researchers and visiting professors.

Krishnan Rajeshwar, a UT Arlington professor of chemistry/biochemistry, told the magazine: “Few scientists have had a greater impact on the advancement of chemical analysis.”

Armstrong received the ACS Award for Chromatography in 1999 and has also won the 1998 ACS Helen M. Free Award for Public Outreach, as well as numerous other awards. Last year, he was named to the 2013 class of ACS Fellows.

The American Chemical Society is the world’s largest scientific society with more than 163,000 members.

Posted February 12, 2014