Award symposium honors chemist Loomis

Physical chemist Richard Loomis was honored by the Saint Louis Section of the American Chemical Society for his outstanding contributions as a researcher, teacher, colleague, and mentor.

Loomis, shown here teaching General Chemistry in fall 2019, was honored for his outstanding work as a researcher, teacher, colleague, and mentor.

Last summer, Richard Loomis, professor of chemistry in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, was announced as the winner of the American Chemical Society’s 2020 Saint Louis Section Award. The award, originally sponsored by the Monsanto Company (now Bayer) and administered by the Saint Louis Section of the American Chemical Society (ACS), recognized Loomis’s outstanding contributions to the profession of chemistry and his demonstrated potential to further the advancement of the chemical profession. Normally, the award would be presented at a banquet following a symposium honoring the winner. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 award symposium was held virtually in April 2021.

The symposium, “Exploration of Novel Chemical Reaction Pathways and Dynamics,” was no less illustrious for being hosted via Zoom. Loomis selected a slate of distinguished speakers with achievements in closely related areas, including David J. Nesbitt, professor and fellow of JILA at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and NIST; Marsha I. Lester, the Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor in Arts & Science at the University of Pennsylvania; and Stephen R. Leone, the John R. Thomas Endowed Chair of Physical Chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley.

“Being able to convene a symposium like this virtually at WashU was truly incredible,” said symposium chair Sophia Hayes, professor of chemistry in Arts & Sciences at WashU and past chair of the Saint Louis Section. “The lineup of chemical physics and physical chemistry speakers included two National Academy members and several fellows of the ACS, APS, and AAAS. Having these distinguished guests join us in Rich’s honor was a terrific opportunity for our scientific community.”

The speakers gave technical talks on their areas of expertise and reflected on their many years of working with Loomis. Overall, the event celebrated both Loomis’s achievements and the vibrant community of physical chemists brought together in his honor.

William Buhro, the George E. Pake Professor in Arts & Sciences and chair of the Department of Chemistry at WashU, spoke at the symposium about his long and fruitful collaboration with Loomis. “Rich has taught me and my students physics, physical chemistry, spectroscopy, and more,” said Buhro. “There’s no other colleague that I’ve done more research with, more teaching with, and more university and department business with. I’m extremely grateful to Rich for the collaboration, the friendship, and the help over all these years. I salute him for winning the Saint Louis Award, which is richly deserved.”