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Allen J. Bard

Energy from H2

perial College, London. The incident made a strong impression on Bard, who would soon choose to launch his own academic career at a less prestigious university than Harvard, but one where tenure was likely if he proved his worth. Wilkinson’s departure had another im- portant impact on Bard’s career. “I re- alized I wasn’t so intrigued about doing inorganic chemistry,” he says. Looking for a new research adviser gave him a chance to change fields and to move toward analytical chemistry, which, he felt, would be a better fit for him. The work of electrochemist James J. Lin- gane captured his imagination, and in 1956 Bard joined Lingane’s group, earn- ing a master’s degree under Lingane’s mentorship in 1956 and a doctorate two years later.

Bard and his wife, Fran, a fellow New Yorker whom he married in his last year of graduate school arrived in Austin to join the faculty of UT as a chemistry instructor in 1958, with his brand-new doctoral degree. He had never been to Texas. Austin, something of a sleepy cow town at that time, was quite a change for a native New Yorker. Bard’s recruitment consisted of a phone call from Chairman Hackerman in which Hackerman demanded, “Are you com- ing or aren’t you?” There had been no campus visit, no seminar presentation,

only an application and a phone call, and Bard came.

Outside the analytical chemistry com- munity, Bard is probably best known for his 20 years of service as the editor

of the Journal of the American Chemi-

cal Society, a position from which he stepped down several years ago. Com- pared with the JACS of 1982, when Bard took the helm, today’s JACS covers chemistry much more broadly, says Pe- ter J. Stang, the journal’s current editor. “JACS publishes more in the materials area, for example,” Stang points out. “It has much more in analytical chemistry and in physical chemistry than it used to have. Not only did Bard maintain and enhance the excellence of JACS, but he broadened its scope. And he did this at a time when the publishing world was becoming more competitive.”

“JACS has always been a good jour- nal,” Bard says. “It’s easy to take over a good journal. I wanted to maintain the very high standard in the papers that were in it, and I think we’ve done that. But I also wanted to make it a more general journal.” Bard’s teaching and research philosophies overlap, seem- ingly to the advantage of the student, but he describes the research payoff. “I like to have broad interests because I think it’s good for students. It’s much


better for a student to have a problem that has a lot of broad aspects to it and to hear from other people in the group who are working on other things. I want to create an environment that broadens students and gives them a good view of chemistry.” There’s another reason for breadth, Bard notes. “I’ve discovered,” he says, “that research doesn’t follow a straight line. It goes in hops and jumps as you understand things, discover things, and see new possibilities. When I see where I am now and where I was 53 years ago, there’s no connection that I would have ever foreseen.”

Bard’s former students and colleagues provide the most accurate insight into the man. two of his former students-- Richard M. Crooks and Henry S. White, now chemistry professors at The Uni- versity of Texas at Austin and the Uni- versity of Utah, respectively--wrote in a special issue of the Journal of Physical Chemistry in 1998 that was dedicated to Bard: “Besides science, Allen teaches fair- ness, tolerance, loyalty, and the impor- tance of intellect and hard work,”

Excerpted from C&EN, April 8, 2002, 80, 14 and J. Phys. Chem B, 1998, 102, 9746-9749

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