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Honoring the Life of Marye Anne Fox, Former VP for Research at UT Austin

Honoring the Life of Marye Anne Fox, Former VP for Research at UT Austin

A member of the National Academy of Sciences and recipient of the National Medal of Science, Marye Anne Fox, former chemistry professor and Vice President for Research at The University of Texas at Austin, died at her home in Austin on Sunday, May 9 following a long illness.

Marye Anne Fox, world-renowned organic chemist and former VP for Research at the University of Texas. Taken at the Chemical Heritage Foundation’s 2012 Heritage Day on April 12, 2012. This photo is reproduced under a Creative Commons A-SA 3.0 license. Credit: Science History Institute.

Fox, who received her Ph.D. from Dartmouth College, joined the UT Austin faculty as an assistant professor in 1976 and rose to the rank of full professor in 1985 and was director of the Center for Fast Kinetics Research. In 1994, she became the university's first VP for Research. 

Despite the demands of a university administrator, she kept up an active research program in organic photochemistry and electrochemistry. Her work has had applications in materials science, solar energy and environmental chemistry. Throughout her career, she maintained a deep love of chemistry.

"Chemistry was logical ... (It) can be easily understood on basic principles, and those principles can be easily established in the laboratory," Fox told The San Diego Union-Tribune in 2010. "Biology I found messy. Physics I found too mathematical. So chemistry was like the 'Three Bears,' just right."

She went on to serve as the first woman chancellor of North Carolina State University and the first permanent woman chancellor of the University of California San Diego. She was a former president of the science honor society Sigma Xi. She also served on President George W. Bush's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

Fox authored hundreds of scientific papers and five books, received three patents and was honored with numerous awards. In 1994, she was elected to the National Academy of Sciences, at a time when only about 5 percent of members were women. In 2010, President Barack Obama awarded Fox the National Medal of Science, the highest honor given by the U.S. government to scientists, engineers and inventors. She received honorary degrees from 12 institutions in the U.S. and abroad.

In 2019, the College of Natural Sciences introduced into UT Austin buildings posters and digital displays featuring Fox and other notable trail-blazers as part of the Texas Science World Changers series.

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Saturday, 19 June 2021

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