Research Magazine 2006

Professor leaves legacy as chemistry pioneer

Professor Dennis Marynick

When chemistry Professor Dennis Marynick retired in May, he left behind a lab devoid of chemicals, beakers, flasks and the usual hanging jungle of rubber tubing. Dr. Marynick, you see, practiced chemistry without chemicals.

He used sophisticated software, some developed at UT Arlington, and the laws of quantum mechanics to model chemical reactions computationally on the University’s high-performance computers, eliminating the need to actually synthesize the molecules.

It worked. One of the last items to leave his office looked like a colorful piece of modern art.  Actually, it was a DNA calculation done on the computer years before researchers were sequencing DNA.

Marynick, who was named the Jenkins Garrett Professor of Chemistry in 1996 and won UT Arlington’s Distinguished Research Award in 1988, was ahead of the pack in many areas. He partnered with colleagues long before collaboration and interdepartmental research became popular.

“Other researchers would come to me and say,  ‘Here is my data but I don’t understand it,’ and I would use calculations to create a model that established how the data fit together,” he said.

In 1984 he received a $2 million DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Administration) grant with colleagues in chemistry and physics, after realizing that each of them had the expertise to solve a piece of the puzzle. “In 1984 a $2 million grant was huge, practically unheard of,” he said.

Along with having more than 170 publications in refereed journals, Marynick received the Wilfred T. Doherty Award of the American Chemical Society, D/FW Section, a research honor that encompasses all universities in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

In addition to his research record spanning 29 years at UT Arlington, Marynick left a legacy in his work with the Annual Celebration of Excellence by Students, which showcases the best of graduate and undergraduate research and creative activity. He served on the ACES steering committee and coordinated the judging.

— Sue Stevens