Tufts chemist named 2011 Fellow by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

December 08, 2011

MEDFORD/SOMERVILLE, Mass. - Mary Jane Shultz, professor of chemistry in the School of Arts and Sciences at Tufts University, has been selected as a Fellow by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. AAAS is the world's largest general scientific society and publisher of the prestigious journal Science. Shultz, principal investigator of the Laboratory for Water and Surface Analysis, was recognized for her contributions to understanding aqueous surfaces and interactions of high powered laser light with those surfaces.

"Look at a cloud and try to imagine the intricate dance between gaseous molecules and the aqueous surface," says Shultz. "At times the outcome is a gentle rain; at other times the violence of a thunderstorm. Charged particles and ice are thought to be crucial in lightning generation, but how is still unknown.

"I am particularly appreciative of this honor as it recognizes my laboratory's key role in catalyzing a shift in understanding charged particles at the aqueous interface as well as my laboratory's contribution to developing a model for using intense light to probe these surfaces," she added.

It was once believed that charged particles were buried in the interior of water droplets, insulated from the surface with no impact on reactions at the surface. "Now, as a result of our work, it is widely accepted that charged particles not only skate in the surface, they are responsible for processes that, for example, form the brown smog found in basin cities like Mexico City, Los Angeles, and Salt Lake," says Shultz.

"Mary is a pioneer and leader in the development and application of spectroscopic methods for understanding how molecules interact and arrange themselves near the surface of aqueous surfaces," says Arthur Utz, assistant professor and chair of the Department of Chemistry at Tufts. "It is great to see AAAS recognize her significant work in this area. It is a well deserved honor."

Shultz has authored more than 60 papers in scholarly journals and four books including Chemistry for Engineers: An Applied Approach (Houghton Mifflin, 2007) and Materials Chemistry: A Case Studies Discovery-Based Approach Laboratory" (Houghton Mifflin, 2007). Her current work focuses on using sunlight to rid water of pollutants.

She received her Bachelor of Science with honors from the University of Wisconsin in 1970, and received her Ph.D. in theoretical chemistry from MIT in 1975. She went on to work in the laboratory of Nobel Laureate Nicolaas Bloembergen, where she was introduced to nonlinear laser spectroscopy, the foundation for probing liquid interfaces. She taught at Boston College and the University of Massachusetts Boston prior to coming to Tufts in 1979. She has held visiting appointments at the University of Colorado Boulder, University of Houston, Sendai University in Japan, and the Foundation for Fundamental Research on Matter in Amsterdam. From 2000 to 2006 she was the chair of the Department of Chemistry at Tufts.

Her seminal paper, "Sum frequency generation investigation of water at the surface of H2O/H2SO4 binary systems," appeared in The Journal of Physical Chemistry in 1997. Her most recent paper developing the model and techniques for probing liquid surfaces, "Multiplexed polarization spectroscopy: measuring surface hyperpolarizability orientation," was published in The Journal of Chemical Physics in 2010.

This year 539 members were selected as AAAS Fellows because of their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications. This year's Fellows will be announced in the journal Science on December 23. New Fellows will be honored during the 2012 AAAS Annual Meeting in Vancouver, B.C. on February 18.
AAAS was founded in 1848, and includes 262 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals. In addition to Science, AAAS publishes Science Translational Medicine and Science Signaling.

Tufts University, located on three Massachusetts campuses in Boston, Medford/Somerville, and Grafton, and in Talloires, France, is recognized among the premier research universities in the United States. Tufts enjoys a global reputation for academic excellence and for the preparation of students as leaders in a wide range of professions. A growing number of innovative teaching and research initiatives span all campuses, and collaboration among the faculty and students in the undergraduate, graduate and professional programs across the university is widely encouraged.

Tufts University

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