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Sunday, September 27, 2020

Faculty & Staff

UH chemists join elite group


"The discovery aspect (of chemistry) is always a fascination," professor Mamie Moy said. Moy has taught chemistry at UH since 1955. | Courtesy of the Office of University Communications

"I like to see students become interested in chemistry," Rigoberto Advincula said. | Courtesy of the Office of University Communications

The American Chemical Society (ACS) recently honored two UH chemistry professors by inducting them into its fellows program, recognizing their career achievements and their contributions to the field of chemistry.

Professors Mamie Moy and Rigoberto Advincula were inducted, along with 190 other professionals, at a ceremony in Boston.

Moy has taught chemistry at UH since 1955, after receiving her master’s from UH three years earlier. She still expresses a passion for her field of study, especially the problem solving and discovery phase of the field.

“The discovery aspect, large or small, is always a fascination,” Moy said. “The fundamental chemistry concepts and discoveries are so essential for the quality of our lives—in the food we produce and eat, the clothes we wear, cyber technology, communications, transportation and everything else.”

Over the 45 years she has taught at UH, Moy has earned numerous honors, including awards from the National Association of Science Teachers and the American Association of University Women. Becoming an ACS fellow holds an especially high honor for her.

“Being recognized by the largest scientific professional society in the world is an honor and very humbling,” she said.

Moy has seen UH and her department develop throughout the decades, and credits both for the many awards she has received.

“I have witnessed the evolution of UH from a private institution to a state university with foreseeable attainment to Tier One (status),” Moy said. “Because of the support from the University, I have received awards and honors from various community organizations for making science, especially chemistry, important, and not formidable, to the general public.”

Advincula, 42, is one of the youngest ACS fellows. He began teaching at UH in 2002 when he joined the chemistry department as an associate professor. He was promoted to full professor in 2007.

Advincula’s love for chemistry began at a young age in his native country of the Phillipines and it continues into his role as a professor.

“Developing something new that will be useful to society (fascinates me),” Advincula said in an email. “I also like that it is a tool for me to educate young minds about science.”

The recognition from the ACS, which Advincula has been a member of since graduate school, is a great honor for him.

“It is (also) quite an honor being one of the youngest, if not the youngest, among the fellows,” he said.

Advincula has received many awards in his career, the most recent being a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant of $400,000 to conduct further research in nanomaterials.

“I have been fortunate to have been funded by the (NSF) and the Welch Foundation through the years,” he said. “But the most rewarding (thing) for me is to see my students finish and launch into successful careers.”

He said being a scientist is a “fantastic” job and likes to look for that same realization in his own students.

“I like to see students become interested in chemistry…and discover through their insights and hard work that it is a fun subject,” Advincula said. “Discovery is a thrill.”


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