Dr. Ron W. Darbeau, left, receives his certificate as a member of the 2014 class of American Chemical Society Fellows at a ceremony hosted by ACS Immediate Past-President Marinda Li Wu at the society’s national meeting in San Francisco, Calif.
(November 24, 2014) Dr. Ron W. Darbeau, professor and head of the McNeese State University Department of Chemistry and Physics, has been selected as a member of the 2014 class of American Chemical Society Fellows.
The 2014 class includes 99 scientists from academia, industry, government labs and small business who have demonstrated outstanding accomplishments in chemistry and made important contributions to ACS, the world’s largest scientific society. ACS Fellows are nominated by their peers.
“I am honored and humbled by the selection,” said Darbeau. “The ACS is the premier association of science professionals worldwide. It holds in highest regard scholarship and service - calling upon its members to push the boundaries of knowledge through scientific inquiry and service to humanity and the advancement of the chemistry enterprise. To have been selected as a Fellow into this institution and to join such an august body of scientists is undeserved…but welcome.”
Darbeau is the first McNeese chemistry professor to be selected as an ACS Fellow and only the third chemistry professor in the state to be selected.
“The scientists selected as this year’s class of ACS fellows are truly a dedicated group,” said ACS President Dr. Tom Barton. “Their outstanding contributions to advancing chemistry through service to the society are many. In their quest to improve people’s lives through the transforming power of chemistry, they are helping us to fulfill the vision of the American Chemical Society.”
Darbeau is internationally recognized for his contribution to science for clarifying the mechanisms of formation and decomposition of a particular class of organic compounds called N-nitrosoamides. His research was aimed, in part, at determining the factors affecting how these compounds fracture upon heating (thermal deamination) to form highly reactive carbon fragments called carbocations. Much of his research centered on the production of these carbocations and their subsequent use in new synthetic methods and as probes of selected organic reaction mechanisms. Darbeau is also credited as pioneering the field of hyperdeamination in which these carbocations are initially formed in the presence of multiple inert spacer molecules.
His work in this area - in collaboration with former McNeese chemistry colleagues Dr. Ulku Ramelow and Dr. Mark Delaney - helped to develop a novel way of making high quality polymers for industrial use that earned McNeese its first patent.
Darbeau’s service to ACS includes serving on multiple ACS committees including serving as vice chair of the Committee on Professional Training that has changed the paradigm for approval of undergraduate programs, revising the 2008 guidelines for bachelor’s degree programs due out later this year, serving on the Graduate Education Advisory Board and on the CHEM-ED Bridges Organizational Team where he assisted in identifying best practices for successful transition from two-year to four-year chemistry programs and serving on a taskforce to revise ACS guidelines for chemistry in two-year college programs. Darbeau is currently the chair-elect of the Southwest Louisiana Section of the ACS.
Darbeau joined the McNeese chemistry department in 1996 as an assistant professor of chemistry. He became an associate professor of chemistry in 2000, head of the chemistry department in 2002, and in 2006, was promoted to professor. He has won numerous awards at McNeese including Shearman Research Initiative Awards, College of Science Endowed Professorships, a Pinnacle Excellence Award, the McNeese Alumni Association’s Distinguished Professor Award and the President’s “Tough but Good Award. At McNeese, he has also garnered more than $1.5 million in funding for research, instrumentation and training. He has been an active participant in the Louisiana Board of Regents Speaking of Science Program since 2002, giving presentations to elementary, middle and high school students across the state.
He is also the author of almost two dozen peer-reviewed articles and has given over three dozen research presentations at state and national meetings.
A native of Trinidad & Tobago, Darbeau received his Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry in 1984 from the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine campus, and his Master of Arts and his doctorate degrees in organic chemistry from the Johns Hopkins University in 1992 and 1996, respectively.