On May 14, 2012, the very first Edward J. McNelis Thesis Prize in Chemistry was presented to Noelle Catarineu at the New York University Department of Chemistry Graduation Ceremony.
Edward J. McNelis was Professor of Chemistry at New York University from 1967-2003. An active scholar and devoted teacher, Professor McNelis made numerous contributions at many levels. While his research was focused in organic chemistry, he was an intellectual whose interests were broad. He was Department Chair in the 1980's, when he provided leadership in all aspects of our department. In honor of the contribution of Professor McNelis to academia, this prize is designed to encourage students to pursue research in the chemical sciences at the graduate level and beyond.
The Edward J. McNelis Thesis Prize in Chemistry was established with generous gifts from Professor McNelis’ sons, Joseph and John. While the memorial award was Joseph's brainchild, it was John who personally presented the award to Noelle in May (pictured below). Joseph is a gastroenterologist who recently moved with his family to Fargo, North Dakota. John is the Vice Chairman of Surgery at Winthrop University Hospital and Associate Professor at SUNY Stony Brook
The prize includes $1,000 and a commemorative award. The design on the award (pictured on the left) includes a typical product of a reaction known as “The McNelis Rearrangement,” coined by Professor Gerald F. Koser of The University of Akron, in his review article in the anniversary issue of Aldrichimica Acta, "1951-2001: Fifty Years of Chemists Helping Chemists." The McNelis Rearrangement was discovered with the assistance of Pakorn Bovonsombat, a graduate student in Professor McNelis' lab at the time. Pakorn is currently the Chair of the Science Division at Mahidol University in Thailand, and we thank him for his contribution toward honoring the memory of his beloved advisor.
Although Noelle did not have the pleasure of working with Professor McNelis, it is fitting that she has enjoyed the mentorship of his good friend, Professor James Canary. Her prize winning thesis is entitled, "Redox-Triggered Chiroptical Switches." She will continue her studies in chemistry at the University of California/Berkeley with the assistance of an NSF Fellowship. Congratulations to Noe