Former MSU professor honored by American Chemical Society

Former MSU professor honored by American Chemical Society

Former MSU professor honored by American Chemical Society

In 1959, Eldon Sund was a graduate student at the University of Texas, studying for his Ph.D. in organic chemistry.

"If you were going to be a chemist, you joined the American Chemical Society," Sund said. So he did. Now, 60 years later, the ACS has recognized Sund for his longtime membership. He was presented with a certificate at Midwestern State University's McCoy School of Science, Mathematics & Engineering Awards Banquet April 29.

Sund did become a chemist and after receiving his Ph.D., worked for DuPont for six years. But Sund felt something wasn't right. That changed when he came to MSU in 1967 to teach chemistry. "Now I can't see myself doing anything other than teaching," he said.

Sund took his teaching to heart, visiting area high schools to recruit students who were interested in science. His main interest focused on heterocyclics, placing non-carbon atoms in ring compounds and how that changed the physical properties of the compound, and he worked with students to accomplish their own heterocyclic research. "That research resulted in more than 20 papers being published with the students being named as co-authors," Sund said.

Because chemistry is a fast-moving field of knowledge, Sund maintains his ACS membership to stay up to date on news in the world of chemistry.

Elizabeth Zubritsky, manager of Society and Media Relations at the ACS, said that Sund belongs to a select group of ACS members. "Less than 3% of the ACS's membership reaches the milestone of 60 or more years of service." The ACS is the world's largest scientific society and one of the world's leading sources of authoritative scientific information. It was founded in 1876, chartered by the U.S. Congress. Today, it has a membership of more than 150,000 in more than 140 countries.

"You can't be a scientist without being curious," Sund said of his philosophy on his profession. "Your brain will atrophy if it's not challenged. The brain is lazy - you have to push it." Although Sund retired from MSU in 1995, retirement has not lessened his curiosity. He continues to find ways to push himself, and his brain. He and his wife, Roberta, have traveled the world, visiting all seven continents.

Nowadays, his curiosity and fascination are focused on something other than heterocyclic compounds - his volunteer work with the Wichita Adult Literacy Council. Sund said that 23% of Texans can't read a newspaper. "But they're clever, they've learned to disguise the fact that they can't read."

At the awards banquet, Sund was presented his 60-year certificate following the announcement of the Dr. Eldon H. Sund Chemistry Scholarship recipients. In a career that includes being a Fulbright exchange professor in London, a sabbatical at Princeton University, a year as a visiting professor at the University of Hawaii, and being named Hardin Professor in 1975, MSU's highest honor for professors, it is that scholarship that is Sund's main point of pride.

One of his early students at MSU asked if he could start a scholarship for chemistry majors in Sund's name - not an easy task as they would need to raise at least $25,000. It took less than a year. Today, the funds have tripled. This year's recipients are Salvatore Capotosto and Bailey Smoot.

"That's one of my proudest achievements," Sund said of this legacy at MSU Texas.

Photo -- Dr. Eldon Sund (right), Professor Emeritus of Chemistry at Midwestern State University, was presented a certificate celebrating his 60 years of membership in the American Chemical Society by MSU Associate Professor of Chemistry Jianguo Shao.