This Newsletter issue especially remembers Prof. Royce Murray, a giant of our scientific community. Prof. Murray was a SEAC board member (1984-86) and Charles N. Reilley Award recipient (1988). Our Royce W. Murray Young Investigator Award was established in his honor to recognize his committed mentoring of young electroanalytical chemists and broader contributions that have been a guide and inspiration to generations of scientists. See the wonderful remembrances included below.
Note, too, in this issue the summary of highlights from the SEAC Student Session at Pittcon 2022 prepared by SEAC student member and newsletter editor Junaid Ahmed!
In closing, I want again to recognize Takashi Ito, Maryanne Collinson and Tim Paschkewitz for keeping us well-informed of SEAC related activities. Please help to spread the word – Tim is always looking for volunteers to assist with the website.
Dr. Royce Murray, 85, of Chapel Hill, NC, died on July 6, 2022, after a long illness. Royce was a faculty member in the Department of Chemistry, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, for 57 years. He was an analytical chemist who pioneered several areas including chemically modified electrodes and the development of methods to characterize nanoparticles. His research is described in more than 440 refereed publications. His research program was recognized by induction into the National Academy of Science in 1991. He received numerous national and international awards and medals. For 21 years, he served as Editor-in-Chief of Analytical Chemistry, the premier journal in his scientific discipline.
Royce Murray was born January 9, 1937, in Birmingham, AL, to parents Royce Leroy Murray and Louisa Justina Herd Murray. He graduated from Birmingham Southern College with a chemistry major in 1957 and went on to Northwestern University, in Evanston, Illinois, to complete his Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry. His father was an electrician, and this influenced Royce to pursue graduate research in electrochemistry.
Royce arrived at UNC-CH at the age of 23 as a chemistry instructor in 1960. He quickly rose through the ranks while being father to 5 children. He was a gifted teacher and researcher and exerted considerable efforts to improve the teaching of science at the University. In 1968, he began planning a new research building, Kenan Laboratories, the first UNC chemistry building to have air conditioning. This temperature regulation allowed research during the hot Chapel Hill summers, dramatically increasing the number of departmental publications. In this era he was director of undergraduate studies and departmental chair. Later he chaired the Curriculum in Applied Sciences and Materials, a program that evolved into the Department of Applied Sciences.
Subsequently, Royce improved undergraduate instruction through planning Morehead Laboratories. In 2000, to improve space for all of science at UNC, he chaired a university committee to shape a science complex for physical sciences. Several new buildings ensued including one named after Royce, Murray Hall. At the same time, Royce built an internationally recognized research program. His research interests were greatly stimulated by time he spent as an administrator at the National Science Foundation. Following this administrative year, he surprised the chemical community by showing that electrochemical reactions could be directed and controlled by chemically modifying electrode surfaces with only microscopic quantities of materials. The chemical modifications demanded verification, so he adapted various surface analytical techniques. Later experiments probed electrochemistry at very low temperatures, including at superconductors, and in materials with very high viscosity. Murray’s later research characterized metal nanoparticles, materials useful in catalysis and as chemical markers.
Royce had numerous interests outside of chemistry. While in high school he was a mile runner and won the state championship. Running remained important to him throughout his career. As a young man, he built a sailboat in his basement and enjoyed using it on Kerr Lake near Chapel Hill. He was well known for his annual fishing trips along the Canadian border. He was an ardent Tar Heel basketball fan and had seats on row 12 of the Smith Center. He also was a car buff. While a young father, he drove a Volkswagen minibus. This evolved into a Porsche 914 in his middle years. Still later he drove pickups that he used to haul fertilizer to his annual vegetable garden. Royce also loved to travel and experience the world. He especially enjoyed trips to the southern regions of Chile with his wife, Mirtha, a Chilean native.
The part of work Royce most enjoyed was his interactions with students, post-doctoral fellows, and faculty colleagues. More than 160 graduate students, undergraduates, and postdoctoral fellows did research in his laboratory. Many of these obtained prestigious faculty positions or made major contributions in chemical industry. A large part of his success in teaching arose because he was a patient listener.
I first met Royce in the summer of 1968 (during his minibus phase) as a prospective graduate student. The military draft wanted me and Royce was kind enough to write letters stating that I was more important to the country as a chemist than as an Army Private. Unfortunately, the letters did not convince the draft board, and I spent 2 years in the Army. When I returned in 1970, I joined his group and did research under his direction. I had a rough start because I had forgotten most of undergraduate chemistry after my Army stint, but Royce was patient and encouraged me to continue. Eventually, I caught up and enjoyed my research experience so much that I decided to follow his example and become a college professor. In 1989 (his Porsche phase), I became Royce’s colleague on the UNC chemistry faculty. Trying to keep up with his example (while teaching, doing research, or running) challenged me to greater exertions in all of these areas. It is hard to imagine a better mentor and colleague than Royce W. Murray.
Royce Murray was a wonderful mentor for me. In comparison to many new graduate students, I had absolutely no undergraduate research experience to prepare me for graduate school. Royce very patiently brought me up to speed when I joined his research group in 1965 as his third PhD student. He was a superb teacher – one of the best I ever had. His course in electrochemistry attracted me into the field. His wonderfully clear explanation of concentration-distance profiles changing during voltammetry was the deciding factor for me. I still have my notes from his course! He was also very supportive and helpful later when I decided to leave my job in industry and move into academics. Royce was an excellent scientist, having many new ideas and skillfully implementing them experimentally. His solid publications, excellent talks at conferences, and long tenure as editor of Analytical Chemistry made him a prominent leader in the field. I enjoyed reading his editorials and often wondered how he came up with so many ideas to comment on. I will certainly miss him – his humor, his wisdom, and knowing that I could call him anytime.
Royce was a very special scientist and a motivating teacher; well organized with a very pleasant demeanor. I also think of him as a good listener, being thoughtful and always polite; a Southern Gentleman. Royce was careful about data quality and very precise with language. His success as the editor of Analytical Chemistry kept teaching us long after graduation.
As a New Yorker (like my fellow student Rick Van Duyne) when I arrived in Chapel Hill in 1966 it was a totally new experience to meet with people who were very polite, and reluctant to exchange insults. Rick and I had many discussions on this phenomenon while insulting each other for sport behind the local scenes. Royce and Charlie Reilley shared a lab that was appropriately called the Wigwam. Many developments in electroanalytical chemistry occurred there over roughly two decades. An excellent tribute to Royce as a man comes through in his NAS biographical sketch for Charlie’s early passing.
A life well lived! I owe much to his thoughtful advice over decades. I was not one of his PhD students, but I remain his student today.
I have many fond memories of Royce and the times spent with him at scientific meetings. I admired his scientific insight, his pioneering developments and, in human terms, his gentleness and good nature. His also being a faculty member at UNC Chapel Hill played some role, since I started my career in theoretical chemistry at UNC Chapel Hill with the late Professor Oscar K. Rice. We shall miss him and his always inspiring and warm presence.
Sometime in August 1976, in the third floor of Kenan Labs in the “Southern Part of Heaven”; a.k.a. Chapel Hill, NC…
HDA: “I am looking for Prof. Murray.”
RWM: “I am Murray.”
HDA: Mentally to himself; “Nice going you idiot! What a way to make a first impression!”
This clumsy first encounter with Prof. Royce W. Murray, represents one of the most career-defining meetings that I ever had and, in fact, will ever have. That meeting was the start of a journey into the field of electrochemistry, in particular and academia and life, in general.
But, let’s back track to a few months before that encounter. I was an undergraduate student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy New York and was looking into graduate school programs. After a number of particularly brutal days of winter, with tremendous amounts of snow and bitterly cold temperatures, Prof. David A. Aikens, (who had been a Post. Doc with Charles N. Reilley) and with whom I was doing undergraduate research mentioned. “You will never see this in Chapel Hill!”. I was sold! He then mentioned that there was this terrific young electrochemist named Royce Murray and that I should look him up. And…we are back to my “first encounter”.
Royce was an individual of exceptional talent and creativity. His name is synonymous with the fields of chemically modified electrodes, self-assembling monolayers and monolayer protected clusters, among many others. He brought rigor and creativity to these fields and in so doing maintained the decades-long tradition of first-rate electrochemistry at UNC.
Royce led by example and was extraordinarily generous and supportive of people in his group. His former students, post-docs and collaborators represent generations of the most creative individuals in electrochemistry.
At a personal level, his support was unquestioned and knew no limits. I am certain that he did things for me that I don’t even know about. I had the utmost respect for him, as a scholar but most of all as an individual. In fact, it was only after getting tenure at Cornell that I developed enough courage to, for the first time, call him Royce. I have also followed his example in how I treat my own students, post-docs and collaborators; with generosity, respect and with absolute support.
Royce had an amazing ability to bring the best people to his labs. It was there that I made friends that last to this day (close to fifty years!!!) including Henry White, Debra Rolison, Jerome Lenhard and Robert Nowak.
One cannot talk about Royce without mentioning Mirtha Umaña, Royce’s “life’s travel partner” for close to 40 years. Their love and caring was palpable; truly one for the ages.
As I look back, I feel exceptionally fortunate to have had Royce W. Murray as an advisor and mentor, and I know, deep down, that I owe him an enormous debt of gratitude for all that he did for me. I feel that his memory is best served by us emulating what he did, how and why he did it.
Dr. Murray was the formative science mentor of my life and I am so very grateful to have had the opportunity to work closely with him, to observe how he approached his science and his profession. He taught me to be curious and thorough, to have broad interests, to have high standards, and to give back to my profession. He showed by his example what is was like to be a science leader, to pursue original research that changes how we all think about the world, and to serve and draw fulfillment from that service. I will greatly miss his counsel and the example he set for our profession.
Prior to joining the Murray group (joint postdoc for Royce and Tom Meyer) in 1976, I had spent a year as a postdoc at the Royal Institution of Great Britain in London. I felt isolated from the academic community and was very happy to join a thriving research group filled with excellent colleagues – visiting faculty Frank Schultz, graduate students Hector Abruna, Jerry Lenhard, Debra Rolison, postdoc Bob Nowak, undergraduate Henry White and others. Royce was pushing his concept of chemical modified electrodes in many directions, mainly by attaching redox active molecules to electrodes. His paper drafts were filled with his favorite phrase “tailor-made” which morphed into “tailor-madeness”, a transformation that met with disapproval from us, his minions. In addition to defining the basic electrochemical behavior of attached redox centers (e.g., cyclic voltammetry peak height proportional to scan rate, redox potentials close to the potentials of unattached analog molecules), Royce pioneered the use of XPS as a tool for analyzing the composition of electrode surfaces. Collaboration with the Meyer group led to many of the redox centers being complexes of ruthenium provided by Pat Sullivan and others.
Through group interactions and personal discussions with Royce, I matured as a researcher and as an aspiring professor. My own research path built on Royce’s basic ideas in the area of self-assembled monolayers both with and without attached redox centers. This led to work on long range electron transfer across alkanethiol self-assembled monolayers via through-bond tunneling, and the direct measurement of reorganization energies of the attached redox molecules through Tafel plots. Thanks to exposure to Tom Meyer’s group, I was aware of the work on proton-coupled electron transfer of ruthenium and osmium complexes and used an osmium-aquo complex on a SAM to map the pH and potential dependence of the PCET kinetics.
Royce was always kind, humorous, and perceptive with me. I appreciated his hesitations as he thought how to answer my questions precisely. I recall his response to a question on whether he enjoyed his role as Editor of the journal Analytical Chemistry. After a moment, he responded “It’s great … about 99% of the time”.
As I was finishing up my PhD at the University of Cincinnati, I pondered my future and considered postdoctoral research. I applied for a National Research Council fellowship at the Naval Research Lab in Washington, DC and was accepted. My mentor, Harry B. Mark, Jr. and William Heineman suggested that I consider going to the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill to work for Royce Murray, so I applied for a position in his group. I suspect that Harry and Bill had something to do with Royce offering me a position. I accepted, which changed the trajectory of my career in a manner that I had never dreamed of. Royce was a master of nurturing and bringing out the very best in the people that he mentored. First and foremost, Royce was a gentleman.
He was a pioneer in his field but never tooted his own horn. Others realized the importance of his work and incorporated his ideas into their own. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery! On a personal note, in my short tenure of one year in the Murray group, I met the most incredible people, who, to this day remain colleagues and friends. I remember going to the local grocery store in the middle of the night (I have insomnia) to pick up a few things, and there was Henry White, an undergraduate, bagging groceries. He made out OK, I think. Then there was Debra Rolison, who ended up being my first hire at the Naval Research Lab, where I began my career, who has transformed electrochemistry at that institution and well beyond. Héctor Abruña, who was a fellow jogger with Royce, has carved out an amazing career. Jerry Lenhard went on to become a star at Kodak research labs. Mirtha Umaña was there for all of us in sorting out surface science and ultimately became Royce’s soulmate and, in the end, his amazing caregiver to his last days. My short time at UNC was a special time for me. Our friendships have stood the test of time. My only regret is that I didn’t play enough volleyball with the group when I was there. I did engage in poker, which Royce always managed to win, humiliating all of us. Thanks to Debra, we have had two reunions to honor Royce after his retirement, including a private tour of Murray Hall led by Royce himself. Our paths have taken different directions, but Royce and Mirtha created a bond, scientific and personal, for all of us who were fortunate enough to overlap at Chapel Hill so many years ago.
Two-score and nine years ago (Professor White begged me to avoid waxing Shakespearean and lean towards the Gettysburg address in my Murray remembrance), I sat in on Royce’s graduate electrochemistry class and was the only person who responded (and correctly) when he posed an open question to the class — and received a classic Murray twinkle in response, recognizing that I was a lowly undergraduate visiting a graduate student in the class. Little wonder that when I arrived at UNC in 1975 as a graduate student, he was at the top of my list of potential Ph.D. advisors.
What does one take on the journey from Chapel Hill after achieving a Ph.D. under the aegis of Royce Murray? A joy for matters scientific. A collegial spirit. And a recognition of the need to blend timeliness and intellectual quality in the pursuit of scientific problems —gently interwoven within an ethical framework where people come first.
All that *plus* the need for a first-rate poker face when playing cards with him and the situational awareness never to get between Royce Murray and a piece of sushi.
And what echoes in the science of 2022 as we remember Royce and all he taught us and let us teach ourselves? The philosophy he established in his pioneering exploration of chemically modified electrodes made self-assembled monolayers the behemoth it became, keeps nano S&T humming, and is part and parcel of making multifunctional mesoscale architectures work. Much of what has moved electrochemical energy storage to new levels of performance — one of the keys to a carbon-neutral future — relies on modifying electrode materials and structures in 3D.
Thank you, Royce. I am grateful we had so many wonderful opportunities to celebrate you and your (and our) beloved Mirtha and your life in chemistry. Thank you especially for a priceless gift: the life-long familial timeline you created for us as members of the Murray clan.
Royce Murray’s science is the basis of much of what we know about films and polymers on electrodes and how to characterize modified electrodes. His science, always clean and creative, grew from his finely tuned perceptions of the phenomena that underpin unique chemical and physical properties. Royce’s support of his students launched many of today’s leaders in electrochemistry. Royce’s support extended to many; he was always interested to talk science. Electrochemistry and electrochemists have been enriched by Royce Murray.
Analytical chemistry has lost one of its most thoughtful and influential members. I first knew Royce when he began serving as Editor-in-Chief of Analytical Chemistry; Royce he handled a number of my lab’s early manuscripts and provided us insightful guidance in navigating issues raised by the reviewers. Royce had a broad perspective in chemistry, which was reflected in the wide range of his innovations and discoveries in research, his leadership as journal editor and in ACS governance, and his impact on the success and influence of the analytical chemistry program at UNC. He will be deeply missed.
What strikes me as I try write this tribute is the realization of the magnitude of impact a mentor can have on someone and their path. I am sure that many of the tributes to Royce will reflect this sentiment, and my feelings are no exception. I spent a year as an undergraduate researcher in Royce’s lab at UNC and the impact of that experience is the reason I am where I am today. He empowered a path into the world of electrochemistry for a student who really had no idea of the impact Royce had already made in the community. I distinctly remember sitting down with Royce while he wrote down ~20 graduate programs to apply to. He told me to pick a dozen and come back when I got in to talk to him about each program and people to meet at each place. This meeting had a lasting effect and throughout my career, I continue to see the impact he has made as a mentor and a scientist. Whether that was through my graduate training with Henry White at Utah or still bumping into Bill Heineman in the halls of Crosley Tower, the reach of Royce’s impact as a mentor cannot be overstated. I am grateful to have had that experience, and I believe we will continue to see Royce’s impact for many years.
Royce Murray was undoubtedly a pioneer, a true scholar, and an exceptional mentor and colleague. He was an endless treasure trove of knowledge who was always happy to share it with young scientists who sought his insight. Royce played a key role in our development as electrochemists and analytical scientists, and we are happy to have known him. We will do our best to carry that spirit forward, in his memory –
As a “gas phase Electrochemist” I can probably qualify as an adjunct member of the Society for Electroanalytical Chemistry. My first memories of Royce mostly stem from my sabbatical leave from the University of Nebraska to the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill where I spent part of my leave as a “Senior Visitor” teaching Analytical Chemistry to a large pre-med class of undergraduate students during the 1974-75 academic year. That was my first experience teaching analytical chemistry to such a group and I benefitted greatly from Royce’s generous and very helpful advice as I weathered this challenging experience. Through the years I valued Royce’s friendship, which was of great value to me, especially in our scientific interactions. He helped me to gain a greater appreciation of the true scope of analytical chemistry and inspired me with his breadth. Royce was truly a leader in not just in all aspects of Analytical Chemistry, but of Chemistry in general and I miss him.
~Charles L. Wilkins
I first met Royce when I was a graduate student attending my very first Gordon Research Conference on Electrochemistry. My advisor Larry Faulkner introduced me to him. I remember Royce’s gentle, patient, and articulate way of describing the ongoing research in his group, illustrating it with care using pen and paper. He was familiar with and expressed an interest in my own research, which took me by surprise and meant a lot to me at that time. He later became an influential and motivating force for me as a junior scientist. I am grateful that he continued to show support for me throughout my subsequent academic career. His passing is a great loss for analytical chemistry and electrochemistry, but he has left a positive, enduring impact on both the science and the people in those communities. Thanks, Royce!
I’m a faculty member at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. It’s heart-broken to learn the passing of Royce Murray.
I was trained as an inorganic chemist. After starting my assistant-professor appointment at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville in 1992, I also became interested in developing materials as new analytical tools. We were fortunate to meet Royce during his seminar visit and later at conferences. He offered his suggestions and perspectives on how to study analytical chemistry. The guidance played an important role in our success. I’m very grateful for his advice and support.
I have many impressions that Royce made upon me, being able to participate in several GRC where he and Fred Anson sat in the front row. They always asked the most direct and hardest questions cutting through the hype and circumstance. In hindsight I better understand how Royce always probed deeply and respectfully into the topic at hand without making the speaker feel like it was to the person but rather to the science. I find this “art” of asking probing questions to the point has now be lost to many public presentations. He really understood to ask for clarity in scientific discussion but also to get the best supporting outcome from the speaker.
The other example is related to the development of chemically modified electrodes and how he approached the science. I followed all his work while a Postdoc at Northwestern (knowing that he graduated there in three years in 1960). It was several years later of course that I met him at UNC and he impressed upon me the importance of electroanalytical chemists to be able to control their own materials to aid more in depth and intimate study. I really took this to heart and leveraged this advice to become a better inorganic and organic chemist to make new materials that enable new understanding and to provide impetus for next generation materials discovery. Royce was well ahead of this time having demonstrated how chemically modified electrodes can advance so many fields of science from chemical sensors, information storage, energy storage and electrochemical energy conversion.
I began as a postdoc in Royce’s lab in 1983. What a time that was, full of excitement to learn about chemically modified electrodes and to get to know Royce Murray as a new supervisor. I only stayed a year, but would have been happy to stay longer. It is a bit complicated, but I obtained two offers for positions at major academic institutions after my first year year of postdoc. I asked Royce for advice as I did not want to bail out on the postdoc after only one year. He said, “You have to take one of these offers or next year no one will take you serious,” making it clear I had to do what was best for my career. Royce was truly one of the great scientists of our time. Not only because he was an imaginative, visionary chemist, but also because he thought about and considered the people around him. Thus, I learned a lot from Royce. Some great science, but so much more. One thing was, as above, always put your people first and good/great things will happen. Additionally, he was extraordinarily well organised and he taught me that this is the trait that makes large projects happen.
A quiet part of Royce was his hugely important service to the science/academic community. Many people know Royce was the long-standing editor of Analytical Chemistry. But, he participated heavily in the work two new building projects at UNC and was very active on committees in the National Academy of Sciences, and much much more. He was selfless in his desire to help the community, his community, of science. There is no better way to remember someone.
I met Royce for the last time in summer 2018 during a short visit to UNC. We sat in his office and as usual talked about science and the world with Mark Wightman. This brought back so many fond memories and allowed me to introduce him to my wife, Nhu Phan (photographer). This was all the more important as she did not get to meet my parents before their passing. At the time of that visit, I had a feeling it would be my last time to see Royce. His passing is a great loss to his friends, his former students and postdocs, and the scientific community.
I am honoured to be able to call Royce mentor and friend. And I pass on condolences and all my best wishes to Mirtha.
I recall how Royce joined the small group of young analytical (and electroanaytical) chemists, led by Ralph Adams, who persuaded the Gordon Research Conferences to initiate an annual conference on electrochemistry and to base it in Santa Barbara, CA in midwinter. These proved to be very successful conferences where many younger scientists were exposed, stimulated and helpfully educated (mostly) by well known, more experienced electrochemical practitioners.
At about the same time Royce helped to create the Western Electroanalytical Theoretical Society, WETS, which was the precursor to today’s SEAC. The founding members used to gather at the beach in San Clemente, CA. just before west coast meetings of the ACS and/or the ECS. I can still recall with pleasure sitting on the beach in San Clemente with Royce and discussing properties of cyclic voltammograms that we drew in the moist sand. Those were the truly good old days.
Royce will be missed in the years to come but surely never forgotten.
Those who are recalling Royce in this space probably remember him first as a wonderfully curious and inventive scientist. But he was far more. In fact, I came to know him best in a context outside of science – when he chaired a search for a new provost at Chapel Hill, and I was a finalist. We interacted closely over several weeks, and I saw a gentleman-scholar who commanded broad trust across the university for his judgment, his comprehensive grasp of affairs and people, his synthetic thinking, his ability to listen, and his deep commitment to the University of North Carolina. Royce was realistic and practical, but also aspirational and rarely cynical. It was a valuable combination. The best times with him were often the relaxed times, when one could just enjoy the conversation. He was a fine teacher of life and science, not least in these moments. For all of the moments we had together, I remain thankful.
My first interactions with Royce Murray had very little to do with electrochemistry. In my dark period of indentured servitude as department head of chemistry at UIUC, I had periodic need to ask Royce to render both formal and informal advice. The first thing I remember how about these requests was that Royce never said no – he was unreserved in his dedication to our profession and never failed to render thoughtful, insightful, and brutally honest opinions whenever he was asked. I was keenly aware that he must surely have been asked to comment on nearly everyone coming up through the junior ranks in our profession, so it was truly inspiring to observe his generosity in spending his time and energy in support of analytical chemistry and the individuals who practice it.
My second enduring memory of Royce is of his dedication to the highest standards of rigor and scholarship. Many others I am sure will comment on the marvelous work he did in helping build and maintain the outstanding group of chemical measurement scientists at UNC as well as his splendid vision and leadership of Analytical Chemistry. However, my memories are of his dedication to the ideal that each of us, as individuals, should produce the highest quality science that we could. I remember sitting with Royce at dinner at a Gordon Conference at about the time that special issues of journals were becoming popular and asking him why we didn’t see more of these in the journal. I’ll never forget his response – Because they tend to produce (paraphrasing here) “inferior” papers! Enough said, message received.
Early in my career, I recall giving a talk in front of Royce Murray and others at a small meeting. I didn’t know him, except by his papers and enormous stature in the field. He was paying close attention, and he asked a hard questions – intimidating! But within a hour, he and I were talking informally about our work and his own over a beer. Over the years, he was a most amazing mentor and roll model for many young faculty in our field. We were incredibly fortunate to count Royce as one of us.
Royce was an inspiration. As a graduate student, I was greatly motivated by his work on chemically modified electrodes and still today often have a need to pore over his Electroanalytical Chemistry chapter on the topic. His AC Editorials are filled with timeless lessons. I will remember him for his kindness, thoughtfulness and tremendous intellect. He always will be very much missed.
I first heard of Royce in his role as editor of Analytical Chemistry when, in the early 1990s, he was trying to reinvigorate our journal. The oldest among us (I was ca. 40 at the time) know that he achieved this feat with astonishing speed and under his leadership Analytical Chemistry quickly regained its place as a reference journal in the analytical field. At the time, I was mainly publishing in physical, organic and organometallic chemistry and fundamental electrochemistry journals, so I was impressed even though I followed Royce’s role as a bit of an outsider.
I only met Royce later when I began actively collaborating with Mark Wightman to establish the theoretical framework validating electrochemistry at microelectrodes. It was during conferences. I then had the impression of meeting a “gentleman of science”, patiently listening and giving Mark and me sound advice. Despite his kind interest for our works, he never agreed to edit our manuscripts, considering that he might be biased because of his previous involvement in Mark’s training. Hence, he delegated editing and decision-making issues regarding our works to Rick McCreery. I quote this because it is a gesture of Royce’s righteous attitude in science. In fact, the only time he edited one of my manuscripts was when he invited me to send a first Letter to Analytical Chemistry I decided to send a work about antique Egyptian black makeup and its antibacterial properties as investigated with Pt-black microelectrodes on cells and tissues. He loved this paper and I discovered on this occasion that he had a strong taste for cultural heritage.
Beyond the above, I deeply appreciated him as a person when I received the Reilley award. We celebrated this award with dinner with him, Mark, Al Bard and other friends during PittCon, and his joy in celebrating my award betrayed his generosity. Later, when Mark moved to Chapel Hill, going to see Royce at each of my visits and discussing scientific matters with him in his office or having dinner with him and his wife were special moments whose memories still rejoice me.
I have known Royce Murray for almost 50 years, initially from attending Gordon Conferences on Electrochemistry in Santa Barbara and visiting him in Chapel Hill. In the pre-internet days as a young Australian early career electrochemist, it was essential and only possible to meet people by travelling long distances and taking advantage of very short periods of time to exchange ideas with scientists from other countries. Royce Murray was one of the people who would always take time to provide constructive feedback to enthusiast young scientists and was fun to be with, in both scientific and social contexts, for all the time I have known him.
Over the years I have met Royce in many countries to listen to his lectures and have discussions on electrochemical topics of mutual interest and life in general. On one occasion my wife Tunde and I were stopping over at Easter Island on our way to a conference in Chile. Amazingly, in this remotest of places, and on visiting probably the only restaurant on the Island, we were delighted to be greeted by Royce and his wife Mirtha. We then had a wonderful time enjoying their company before completing the journey to Chile. Royce had many interests in addition to his love of science which made conversations with him so interesting.
During his time as editor of Analytical Chemistry, Royce constantly provided great advice on what improvements could be made to our papers based on his assessment of reviewer advice supplemented by his own insights, when appropriate. I always found his editorials stimulating and thought provoking. For example, via these and other communications, I knew his view was that short sharp accounts of novel science were preferable to some of our lengthier papers and as a result sometimes we had to shorten our work to meet what he regarded to be a suitable length relevant to the importance of our contributions.
I know that many Australians in addition to myself have greatly benefitted from Royce’s leadership and mentorship. We will miss his inspirational pioneering contributions to the field of electroanalytical chemistry, but fondly remember what he achieved in his stellar career that had a high impact on the global community of analytical scientists.
Royce Murray was a gentleman and a scholar. In my career I was fortunate to meet Royce at meetings and conferences in many places around the world and I had numerous insightful scientific conversations with him. But, my fondest memory of Royce was the time I literally bumped into him and his wife as I turned a corner while strolling through the Rijkmuseum in Amsterdam. They were heading home from a conference in Poland and I was heading to a conference in Prague. We both had flight connections in Amsterdam and had decided to spend an extra night there in order to see the paintings and art! Sporting his ever present favorite hat, we laughed together, chatted for a moment, and then went our separate ways. Whether in Europe, Japan, California or Chapel Hill, I will always cherish the brief times I was able to spend with Royce–a man of great humility who always treated everyone as his equal.
A few days ago, I was reminded of one of my early encounters with Royce. I caught a clip on the news where the Labour Leader of the Opposition, Sir Keir Starmer, walked into a room to meet the new King Charles III. “Your Majesty…..I thought your speech was fantastic” said Sir Kier. “Oh, that’s reassuring” said King Charles, evidently flattered. When I met Royce, I opened in similar fashion (but without the Majesty!): “I really enjoyed your latest editorial in Analytical Chemistry”. Royce put me on the spot with a somewhat different reply: “Really? What aspect in particular?” (or words to that effect). Fortunately, I had read the editorial!
Royce led the way as Editor of Analytical Chemistry and it was through the journal that many analytical scientists got to know him. Nowadays, editorials are quite common in many ACS journals, but it was pretty rare in scientific journals (especially from the ACS) when Royce was writing ad hoc editorials throughout the 1990s onwards. Looking back on a few of them, you get a good sense of Royce’s passions and also see that he was often ahead of his time, for example, when musing “on electronic publishing and reading by the fireside” in 1995! His editorials have science at the centre, but embrace politics, policy and society. I encourage you to revisit them, or to go and look for the first time.
Royce visited the UK on a number of occasions, usually to pick up an award (such as the RSC Electrochemistry group Faraday Medal) or give a plenary or opening lecture at a Faraday Discussion. In 2005, he was recipient of the prestigious RSC Centenary Prize and we had the pleasure of hosting Royce and Mirtha at Warwick as one of the venues on his UK lecture tour. During that visit he was keen to discuss science with graduate students and faculty alike, as well as enjoy a good dinner or two, where he was excellent company, as always.
Royce was passionate about instrumentation development, evident in a series of editorials he wrote about the importance of graduate students being trained to build instruments (something we have taken to heart at Warwick), but also through his stewardship of the journal. He made Analytical Chemistry the go-to forum for reporting technique developments, which I sensed (excuse the pun!) when working with Al Bard and then in my independent career from the early 1990s. “Royce’s journal” became the natural home for what I consider to be some of our best work. Royce assembled an expert team of co-editors who handled papers, but in the last few years of his tenure as Editor, I had the privilege of Royce handling our papers himself, which he did with consumate professionalism. On one occasion (just after New Year), I wrote and asked whether I could have a chat and seek his advice on one difficult aspect of our research (not something I would do lightly). He replied a few hours later: “I’m on a ship and phone right now. I’ll be back in the office Monday. We’ll arrange a phone time then”. Yes, Royce was approachable and helpful, and his advice was invaluable. He believed in letting the science speak and for that he will long be remembered.
As an undergrad at UNC in the spring of 1976, I enrolled in a sophomore-level analytical chemistry taught by Prof. Samuel Knight. I learned a great many new things in that course, including a bit of electrochemistry: molecular diffusion, Heyrovsky, and that electrons always move to the cathode. But Prof. Knight was a bit muddy about how redox processes took place at the electrode/electrolyte interface. Fortunately, I had a lab teaching assistant, Jerry Lenhard, who worked in the Murry lab, and who told me to go ask Royce Murray for a lab position if I was really interested in this electrochemical stuff. So, with quite a bit of trepidation (Prof. Murray had a no-nonsense reputation among the undergraduates), I knocked on his office door and told him I wanted to learn about electrochemistry. Prof. Murray offered me a position on that first visit, but with the condition that I first successfully complete his graduate-level Electrochemistry course, Chem 145, being taught later that year. I thought Chem 145 was a fabulous course, as we learned everything, A to Z, about electrochemistry. I still have my bound set of Prof. Murray’s typed course notes filled with his hand drawings of op-amp circuit diagrams, i-E curves, double-layer structure, etc. that he provided to each student at the start of the course.
Royce was always thoughtful and encouraging as I reported back to him with failed experiments for many months, but we eventually got the science under control. The Murray lab was a great place for a novice undergraduate researcher, as I was surrounded by grad students and postdocs who were both supportive and a lot smarter than me. Of course, at the time I didn’t have a clue that I would be intertwined with these folks, including Royce, over the next 40 years. Towards completion of my degree, Royce firmly steered me to Texas to do my graduate work with Prof. Allen Bard. I am indebted to Royce for providing this opportunity to me as an undergraduate.
Over the decades since leaving Chapel Hill, I observed Royce serve as an impeccable role model: creative and rigorous science, attention to serving the university and chemistry communities, and always offering an encouraging word about science and life! He will be greatly missed.
The celebration of life of Royce W. Murray will begin at 2 pm, October 22, 2022 and will be held in the large classroom in Murray Hall, room G202. The presentations will also be broadcast over Zoom and be recorded. Click here to join on the day of the event (passcode is 473053).
Debra Rolison, Joe Templeton, Lowry Caudill, and Holden Thorp will present their recollections of Royce. A reception will be held afterward in the Murray/Venable lobby.
Royce, a chemistry faculty member for 57 years, contributed greatly to the growth of the Department of Chemistry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
The New Venable lot or N11, is available for parking. Access to New Venable is off of South Road. Murray Hall is a short walking distance from the lot. A parking attendant will staff the parking lot. You may park in any available space except for fire lanes, service spaces, reserved spaces, such as disability, or service visitor.
Students and Post-Doc electrochemical scientists: Come to Pittcon and attend the 3rd SEAC Student Group Meeting on March 18, 2023 in Philadelphia, PA!
Participation in this meeting is open to students (graduate, undergraduate) and postdoctoral associates, with minimal faculty oversight.
The style of the meeting is that of a large group meeting with talks chosen from the students who attend. Talks on half-baked, problematic, or poorly understood data are encouraged, and time will be dedicated to group-level discussion. Please do not plan to bring polished, formal presentations to this meeting.
Student social activities will be planned Saturday night for the SEAC Student Group Meeting.
The meeting immediately precedes the Pittsburgh Conference on Analytical Chemistry. Students are encouraged to attend the SEAC Student Group Meeting, and then stay to enjoy Pittcon and additional SEAC activities (SEAC Awards symposium and SEAC reception and dinner).
To facilitate attendance at both meetings, you may consider presenting a poster at a SEAC or ACS Division of Analytical Chemistry Session. (This will hopefully make attendance at the meeting affordable if you are attending Pittcon.)
Pittcon Conference & Exposition highlights latest advances in analytical chemistry domains and offers excellent networking opportunities among peers. SEAC members always look forward to the SEAC student session at this conference, which has showcased emerging talents in electrochemistry since 2014. Young scientists interested in electrochemical research get opportunities to explore diverse aspects of current research with innovative strategies and achievements during this session. Additionally, by looking at the cohort of speakers, this session offers faculty members or companies chances to hire a promising young electrochemist in future. Thus, the last minute cancellation of Pittcon 2022 was heartbreaking. We greatly appreciate the Session Chairs, Stephen Maldonado and Martin Edwards, for planning the session virtually using zoom! The session was held on 17th of June 2022 at 10 am (CDT), formatted into two segments with a 20-minutes recess to get virtual coffee and chit chats. Total 8 speakers presented their research from different groups. Talks included advancements and applications of various electrochemical techniques to answer challenges in energy storage devices, nanoparticle electrocatalysis, single-cell electroanalysis, high-throughput electrochemistry, detection of neurotransmitters, and microscale bioanalysis. The talks offered insightful, diverse, and creative experimental ideas, strategies, and material designs to tackle these challenges.
Abhiroop Mishra (University of Illinois), the first speaker, presented in-situ and spatially resolved detection of oxygen evolution on the cathode materials of Li-ion batteries (LIBs) using scanning electrochemical microscopy. Abhiroop successfully gained valuable insight into lattice oxygen loss which is one of surface degradation processes that significantly limit the available capacity of LIBs. Following that, Andrew Pendergast (University of Utah) presented his research on electrodeposition of single Pt nanoparticles (NPs) using scanning electrochemical cell microscopy within confined volumes. This technique allowed the control of the size and number of NPs deposited in a single electrochemical cell. Thus, Andrew could clarify the size-dependence of the HER electrocatalytic activities of individual isolated nanoparticles through direct measurements one-at-a-time, without isolating individual nanoparticles. Then it was my turn (Junaid Ahmed, Virginia Commonwealth University) to present my research on single-bacteria-cell electroanalysis using blocking impact electrochemistry. I demonstrated an in-depth analytical study to differentiate bacteria based on differences in blocking duration induced by their size. In my talk, I also discussed the bacterial adsorption dynamics on ultramicroelectrodes that were rooted to their motility. Thus this work emphasized the importance of physiological bacterial behavior while studying individual bacteria using the blocking impact method. Before the break, Sasha Alden (Texas A&M) shared her research on developing an array microcell method (AMCM) to facilitate high-throughput small-scale (micron to nanometer) electrochemistry. This method employs solution-filled, moveable glass micropipettes with tip diameters ranging from 20 to 50 µm to electrochemically address single micro- or nano-electrodes within an array of thousands of ordered electrodes. Initially, AMCM was designed with manual pipette movement control via manipulators in conjunction with a commercial potentiostat. She made important advances in automated scanning/feedback techniques, which allowed AMCM to be used for the faster and more reliable high-throughput electrochemical tests.
After the break, Chathuri De Alwis (North Carolina State University) presented her novel method for determining exocytosis-induced release of neurochemicals from single cells by fast-scan cyclic voltammetry. She placed a carbon-fiber disk microelectrode (CFME) with a 30 µm diameter in a “artificial synapse” configuration with a cell. For isolated bovine chromaffin cells (16 µm), this bigger CFME provided stable responses over time and recorded more release events with less diffusional loss compared to a conventional 10 µm diameter CFME. Her research addressed the often-overlooked diffusional loss associated with neurochemical measurements at single cells that can be overcome using a larger CFME. The next presenter was Movassaghi Cameron from University of California – Los Angeles. He demonstrated simultaneous detection and quantification of several neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine in awake behavioral animals over a range of biologically significant timescales using rapid pulse voltammetry and customized data analysis techniques. The ability to monitor these diverse neurochemical dynamics represented a step towards decoding the chemical messengers behind brain function and dysfunction. Later, Yuanyu Cheng (University of Virginia) presented his work employing dual channel fast scan voltammetry to monitor rapid adenosine release in brain slices. The range of fast adenosine release was defined by altering the distance between two measuring sites. While spontaneous adenosine was confined and released randomly, mechanically-stimulated adenosine could influence a wider region of up to 200 µm. The findings indicate that mechanically activated adenosine had local effects on neuroprotection (within 2 seconds) during tissue injury. The final speaker, Han Chen (Iowa State University) discussed her research on the development of an on-chip valving system based on electropolymerization for single-cell microscale analysis. This valving system was created by the electrosynthesis of pyrrole-based conductive polymeric ionic liquid (CPIL) microstructures at specific locations inside an array of bipolar electrodes (BPEs), each of which crosses a CPIL-aqueous phase boundary. This electropolymerization-based on-chip valving technology holds great potential for enabling on-chip single-cell collection and analysis.
Following the oral presentations, a virtual poster session was held from 1pm to 2pm (CDT) using zoom break out rooms. Ten presenters: Yejin Yang, Muzammil (Mill) M.N. Ahmed, Amanda Ritz, Nicholas Volya, Kelly Dunham, Zijun Shao, Ruby Shah, Oreoluwa Cherebin, Ivneet Kaur Banga, and Debashis Sen presented their posters. They presented various electrochemical techniques such as tap-and-paper based electrochemical oral pH sensors, real-time antidepressant and neurotransmitter detection from single cell to common fruit flies (Drosophila), and manufacturing of microelectrode arrays and nanoelectrodes for efficient detection.
As the session was about to end, Martin Edwards said in his closing remarks, “This session provides a platform showing that talented electrochemists come from all backgrounds and don’t necessarily conform to one stereotype. Giving a diversity of students, a platform to communicate enhances their visibility and allows them to become role models for the success of others”. Stephen Maldonado added, “The best way to improve as a public speaker is to speak in public. This session allows young scientists to gain more confidence in their abilities. Since 2014, this session has highlighted 64 talented young electrochemists who went on to become successful professionals. It is great that some of those previous speakers are now mentors themselves.”. Finally, Stephen Maldonado and Martin Edwards thanked everyone for participating remotely in this session during this unprecedented time. With the hope of seeing everyone in person at Pittcon 2023, the session was finally adjourned.
I. M. Kolthoff Enrichment Awards for Undergraduate Students
The American Chemical Society Division of Analytical Chemistry encourages undergraduate students to apply for the I. M. Kolthoff Enrichment Awards for Undergraduate Students to present their research in spring 2023 at either PITTCON or the spring ACS meeting. The award provides reimbursement of up to $750 in travel expenses. Applications are due January 9, 2023.
Preference will be given to undergraduate chemistry majors with strong academic records who have made significant research contributions in the analytical sciences for whom this would be their first national meeting presentation and who have access to limited other support mechanisms.
The Division of Analytical Chemistry is offering travel awards for Younger Chemists (under age 35) to travel to a meeting to present the results of their research. Individuals who may not have previously been able to participate in professional meetings are particularly encouraged to apply.
Applications are due Nov 1 for winter and spring meetings and May 1 for summer and fall meetings.
Susan Lunte, Ralph N. Adams Professor of Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Chemistry, University of Kansas, has received the ACS Award in Analytical Chemistry sponsored by the ACS Division of Analytical Chemistry.
Hang Ren, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, the University of Texas at Austin, has received the NIH Maximizing Investigators’ Research Award (MIRA) (R35).
Upcoming Events and Meetings
Meetings of interest to our SEAC members abound during the coming year, with some of the symposia organized by our own members. We have a dedicated Events section of our new website, which provides fuller detail that in this newsletter. Check it out!
The 243rd ECS Meeting and 18th International Symposium on Solid Oxide Fuel Cells (SOFC-XVIII) take place in Boston, MA, from May 28-June 2, 2023, at the Hynes Convention Center and Sheraton Boston. This international conference brings together scientists, engineers, and researchers from academia, industry, and government laboratories to share results and discuss issues on related topics through a variety of formats such as oral presentations, poster sessions, panel discussions, tutorial sessions, short courses, professional development [ ... ]
You are cordially invited to the 1st International Workshop of the Bioelectrochemical Society with a focus on «Bioelectrochemistry for improved Life Quality» to be held between the 14th and 16th of June 2023, which will be held in Salt Lake City, Utah. The meeting will bring together scientists and engineers with an interest in advancing (bio)electroanalysis techniques from theory to application. Salt Lake City is in the Wasatch mountains of the western United States. The conference venue is located [ ... ]
Organic electrosynthesis initially emerged in the field of synthetic chemistry as an intrinsically green method to replace hazardous chemicals by electrons for oxidations and reductions. In recent years it has been shown to offer unique opportunities to increase conversion efficiencies and synthesize new molecules that are not accessible thermochemically or photochemically and not accessible from petroleum. It can also be used to streamline biocatalysis and chemocatalysis in biorefineries, manufacture chemicals from regional- and community-scale quantities [ ... ]
Former capital of the Gauls, founded in 43 BC and known as Lugdunum at the time of the Roman Empire, Lyon is nowadays the second-largest urban area and the second economic center in France. Lyon is an exceptional city located at the crossroads of Europe, listed since 1998 in the UNESCO World Heritage register, recognized for its history and for the beauty of its architectural monuments. It includes the districts of “vieux Lyon”, one of [ ... ]
Hang Ren is organizing the Advances in Electrochemistry symposium under Analytical Division (ANYL) at the 2023 Spring ACS National Meeting in Indianapolis, IN, from March 26 to 30. I would like to invite you to submit an abstract for oral and poster presentations. Abstract submission is due Oct 17, 2023, and is available through this link.
We will be transitioning our “job board” to a members-only section of the website. To bring value to both opportunity seekers as well as opportunity providers, we have decided to require active membership to view these Opportunities. Head over to the page. You must be logged into the SEAC website to view the opportunities.