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Famed nuclear chemist elected Fellow of American Chemical Society

Chemistry professor Walter Loveland was recently named a Fellow by the American Chemical Society (ACS). Loveland is one of 51 ACS Fellows in 2018. The new fellows will be feted at the society’s fall national meeting in Boston this August.

The ACS Fellows Program recognizes members of ACS for their outstanding achievements in and contributions to science, the profession and the Society. The lifelong designation recognizes ACS members for their excellence in scientific leadership and for their exceptional volunteer service to the ACS community. With more than 161,000 members, ACS is the world’s largest scientific society and the premier professional home for chemists, chemical engineers and related professions worldwide.

Loveland has made pioneering contributions to nuclear chemistry and his systematic study of the nuclear reactions that create super-heavy elements has provided powerful tools for scientists engaged in this research. He engineered the use of radioactive beams in heavy-element synthesis and led the investigation of heavy residues in nuclear fusion reactions for which he was awarded the ACS Glenn T. Seaborg Award for Nuclear Chemistry in 2014.

Walter Loveland, chemistry professor

Loveland joined the chemistry department at Oregon State University in 1968 after completing postdoctoral research at Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago. He obtained a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Ph.D. in nuclear chemistry at the University of Washington.

At Oregon State, Loveland pursued projects in environmental as well as nuclear chemistry, before focusing his attention on nuclear chemistry after meeting Glenn T. Seaborg. He was a professor of chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley and received the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1951 for his discovery of plutonium. Loveland and Seaborg shared a long research collaboration on the synthesis of superheavy elements that lasted for more than two decades until Seaborg’s death in 1999.

With Seaborg, Loveland co-authored the textbooks Nuclear Chemistry (1982) and The Elements Beyond Uranium (1990). Loveland’s most recent book, Modern Nuclear Chemistry was published in 2006.

Loveland’s landmark publication in 1979 with Seaborg  and D.J. Morrissey in Science magazine explained why scientists were finding it difficult to “synthesize superheavy elements by using complete fusion reactions.”

An article in the ACS magazine Chemical & Engineering News describes Loveland’s impact when he pioneered the use of radioactive beams in heavy-element synthesis. “Prior to the 1980s, scientists had mostly collided stable isotopes together in their quest to create new elements. Loveland devised ways to use radioactive isotopes as projectiles, thus greatly expanding the range of nuclear reactions possible.”

In 2002, Loveland served as chair of the ACS’s Division of Nuclear Chemistry and Technology. The following year, he and his colleagues experimentally confirmed the discovery of element 110 in the journal Physical Review C, the culmination of a longstanding research collaboration that started in the early 1990s in Berkeley.

Loveland was elected a Fellow to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in 2015, the world’s largest general scientific society. He has received other national honors for his achievements and research. He was elected to the ASE Mentor Hall of Fame and has been recognized by the Sigma Xi, the American Physical Society and other organizations.

Loveland is a professor of chemistry at Oregon State where his nuclear chemistry research group is involved in the “search for new phenomena at the limits of nuclear stability.” Loveland said he was especially gratified by the recognition his work has received, culminating in the ACS and AAAS fellowships and the Seaborg Award.




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