UTA Magazine
Endowed chair
Highly cited scientist accepts Welch Chair in Chemistry

Daniel Wayne Armstrong Daniel Wayne Armstrong, formerly the Caldwell Distinguished Professor at Iowa State University and the DOE Ames Laboratory, joined the faculty this semester as the University’s first Robert A. Welch Chair in Chemistry.

Although new to Arlington, Dr. Armstrong is no stranger to Texas. He earned a master of science in oceanography in 1974 and a doctorate in bio-organic chemistry in 1977, both from Texas A&M University.

Armstrong has more than 380 publications and 10 patents and has been named one of the world’s most highly cited scientists by the Scientific Citation Index. He has more than $3 million in current research grants, has won numerous national and international awards and is on the editorial board of 11 scientific journals.

“Attracting a world-class scientist of Dr. Armstrong’s stature to UT Arlington will have a tremendous impact, not only on the University but on Texas,” said chemistry and biochemistry Professor Zoltan Schelly, chair of the Welch chair search committee.

“His dynamic creativity will ferment collaboration between universities and industry, just as much as between universities and medical schools, and among researchers of different disciplines in various academic departments.”

Dr. Schelly said this collaboration should result in a “quantum jump” in federal research funding to the state, which lags behind states of comparable population such as New York and California.

The Welch Foundation endows chairs at Texas universities and medical schools. A university does not apply for a Welch chair; instead, it is a recognition bestowed by the foundation. Once a university receives a Welch chair, it must match the $1 million provided by the foundation to support the scientist’s research. Then the department starts the search to fill the position.

Schelly said recruiting is a slow and difficult process because notable scientists like Armstrong already have prominent positions elsewhere.

Armstrong said there were five reasons he accepted the position. Returning to Texas was one: He prefers warm weather to cold and likes the Texan “can-do” spirit.

And the other four? Holding a Welch chair is an outstanding opportunity, he said, and he was impressed by the support from UT Arlington administrators. The outstanding new facility (see story) he will work in and the quality faculty he will work with, he said, cemented his decision.

The Welch Foundation is a legacy of Robert Alonzo Welch, who came to Houston as a youth and made his fortune in oil and minerals. He became convinced of the importance of chemistry for the betterment of the world, and when he died in 1952 a generous portion of his estate went to his employees and their families and the balance to establish the foundation.

Based in Houston, the foundation is one of the nation’s oldest and largest private funding sources for basic chemical research.

— Sue Stevens

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