American Chemical Society names Chemistry Alumnus Joe Merola as Fellow

Categories: Alumni

A former member of the Seyferth Group, Merola received his PhD from MIT in 1978.

Joseph S. Merola (PhD ’78), a former graduate student in Emeritus Professor Dietmar Seyferth‘s group and current Professor of Chemistry at Virginia Tech, has been named a Fellow of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

He is among 70 new Fellows of the nation’s central chemistry organization inducted this year, and is the ninth to be so honored by ACS from the department, part of the Virginia Tech College of Science.

“In any profession, the greatest recognition one can get is the recognition of their peers,” Merola said. “As I look at the other members of this year’s Fellows, and, indeed all of the previous Fellows, I am humbled to be given this recognition. Although I am receiving this honor, I am really only the ‘front person’ for many, many others who have been a part of my life, both personal and professional, as I have made my chemical journey: family, friends, students, colleagues, and I am sure many others who have helped me along the way.”

According to ACS, candidates are selected for their excellence and leadership in science, the profession, education, and/or management, and volunteer service to the ACS and its membership and community.

Merola was recognized for his substantial contributions to organometallic chemistry, chemical education and outreach, graduate and undergraduate student mentorship, and administration throughout his 30-plus year career at Virginia Tech, as well as his service and contributions to ACS local and national meetings through the organization of meetings and symposia and for the advising/mentoring of students.

Merola earned a bachelor’s degree from Carnegie-Mellon University in 1974 and a PhD in 1978 from MIT, both in chemistry. He initially went into industry, working for Exxon for nearly 10 years before joining Virginia Tech in 1987. He was promoted to full professor in 1995 and has served as department chair, associate dean for research and outreach for the former College of Arts & Sciences, acting dean of the Virginia Tech Graduate School, and senior administrative fellow where he was tasked with university restructuring.

Most recently, he served as president of the Virginia Tech Faculty Senate. He also has served as advisor to the Chemistry Club, a student affiliate of the American Chemical Society, and Alpha Chi Sigma, the professional chemistry fraternity

He was inducted into the Academies of Faculty Service in 2016 and Faculty Leadership in 2019. His other Virginia Tech-based awards include three Certificates of Teaching Excellence in 1991, 1994, and 1997; the University Wine Award for Teaching Excellence in 1997; and a Teaching/Research Faculty Award for Excellence in Access and Inclusion in 2019.

“We are elated by the news of Joe’s selection as an American Chemical Society Fellow,” said Alan Esker, current chair of Virgina Tech’s chemistry department. “Joe’s selection for this highly deserved honor not only recognizes his contributions to iridium-based chemistry and catalysis, but also his leadership efforts to expand our discipline through the local Blue Ridge Section of the American Chemical Society, K-12 outreach, and diversity activities.”

This article was originally featured on Virgina Tech Daily.