University of Pittsburgh




When the Department of Chemistry celebrated its 125th Anniversary in 2000, a history of the Department and its many great scientific achievements was prepared.  It was also decided that it was time to begin to recognize those alumni whose contributions to the field of chemistry has placed great honor on the Department and the University.  Thus the biannual Distinguished Alumni Award was begun.

The purpose of the biannual Alumni Awards is to recognize merit. Our graduates have had a positive impact in many spheres of life. We recognize those whom we view as having accomplished something special. This can be a singular occasion or accomplishment, or a lifetime achievement. Though our graduates have degrees in chemistry, they may have impact in other spheres, particularly medicine, teaching, business and administration.

On Friday September 19 and Saturday September 20, 2014, we honored five chemistry alumni by presenting them with the 2014 Department of Chemistry Distinguished Alumni Award.  Their accomplishments and contributions are a testament to their talents, and to the education and training that they have received at the University of Pittsburgh. We are happy to have celebrated this occasion with George W. Luther III (PhD 1972), Jayendran Rasaiah (PhD 1966), Nancy M. Targett (BS 1972), Jane N. Valenta (PhD 1994), and James J. Valentini (BS 1972).

The celebration began on Friday afternoon with a roundtable “Pathways to Success” discussion. This was an opportunity for the awardees to motivate, inspire, and inform graduate and postdoctoral students.  A tour of the Chemistry buildings followed and we were able to showcase our new renovations and infrastructure improvements.  The Awards Dinner took place on Friday evening at 6 pm, followed by the awards presentation.  Our senior undergraduates had the opportunity to meet the awardees at the Celebrate Success! breakfast on Saturday morning at 9:00 AM. 

We applaud the creativity, leadership, and accomplishments of our esteemed graduates!

For current and past recipient profiles, please visit


A look back at a review of the Chemistry department from 1951: