Dave Morrissey Receives 2011 Glenn T. Seaborg Award

For the first time in nearly a decade, Dave Morrissey is going to have to rent a tux. The last time he donned such regalia was in 2003 when – as chairman of the Nuclear Chemistry and Technology division of the American Chemical Society – he presented the division’s annual award for outstanding contributions to the field.

In a slightly ironic twist of fate, it is the same award presentation that is requiring Morrissey to again wear a tuxedo. But this time, he’s on the receiving end.

Dave Morrissey

Professor David Morrissey.

On Tuesday, March 29, Morrissey will accept the 2011 Glenn T. Seaborg Award for Nuclear Chemistry. The award will be presented to him during the banquet and awards ceremony of the American Chemical Society’s annual meeting being held in Anaheim, California. The award recognizes and encourages long term research in nuclear and radiochemistry or their applications by awarding an individual who has made outstanding contributions in the field.

Though Morrissey obviously has proven his proficiency in nuclear chemistry, he began his collegiate career in a slightly different field – physics. However, as he took more physics classes, he found he was getting better grades in chemistry and understood that subject more easily. By his sophomore year at Pennsylvania State University, he had switched majors to chemistry. And by his junior year, he had discovered nuclear chemistry at one of the few colleges left to operate a nuclear reactor and offer undergraduate degrees in the specialized field.

“It seemed like it was really right for me,” says Morrissey of his decision to enter nuclear chemistry. “It was a combination of physics and chemistry, and it seemed to fit.”

After an undergraduate research project at Penn State, Morrissey moved on to complete his Ph.D. Work in chemistry in 1978 at the University of California, Berkeley, where he was one of the final students to have Glenn Seaborg – the award’s namesake – as a thesis advisor. After graduation and a post-doctoral appointment, he joined the faculty at Michigan State University in 1981 and spent the next 30 years playing a leading role in developing NSCL into one of the world’s premier facilities for rare isotope research.

Specifically, his work includes his contributions over a long period of time to the development of projectile fragmentation. He is being recognized for both his work on the reaction mechanism, contributing to an understanding what’s happening during the process, as well as developing techniques to separate the products and use them in a practical way.

“It’s definitely an honor and a privilege,” says Morrissey, who is looking forward to the event so that he can celebrate with former colleagues, collaborators and former students who will assemble from around the world. “Not many people have received the award over the years and those who have are pretty well known. It’s flattering.”

To learn more, read the full write-up on the American Chemical Society's website.