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UC Engineering Prof Named Cincinnati’s Chemist of the Year

One of many accolades comes from the world’s largest scientific society in recognition of a new journal named after — what else — one of the most abundant elements in the world.

Date: 2/7/2010
By: Wendy Beckman
Phone: (513) 556-1826
Stephen Clarson, a professor in the College of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Cincinnati, has been named the 2010 Chemist of the Year by the Cincinnati Section of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

Clarson, who will be given the award at the ACS annual awards banquet on Feb. 10, was quite honored.

“ACS is the biggest science society in the world,” he says. “They were founded in 1876 in a pharmacology school in New York but now attract an audience that includes not just chemists but also engineers, environmentalists, geologists, medical doctors and more.”

In fact, ACS publishes the trade magazine “Chemical & Engineering News,” as well as more than 40 academic journals, such as “Accounts of Chemical Research,” “Energy and Fuels” and “Nano Letters.”

Publishing is one area to which Clarson is no stranger, himself. He also wears the hat of editor-in-chief of “Silicon,” … “the only international, interdisciplinary journal solely devoted to the most important element of the 21st Century.”

The inaugural cover to
The inaugural cover to 'Silicon' might look familiar to UC audiences.

“I spoke at our silicon symposium with 14,000-plus attendees at our biannual meeting in Washington, DC, last August,” explains Clarson. “Following that, I was interviewed by Chemical & Engineering News. There is an incredible amount of interest in this very common element.” [“Emulating Nature's Silicon Skills” by Sophie L. Rovner Chemical & Engineering News, 87(37), Sept. 14, 2009]

“Given the number and variety of fields intricately involved with silicon, we knew that a journal would be quite a resource to many scientists in the field. So we put a proposal together and approached Springer,” he says. “I’m surprised that nobody’s done it before, but I’m lucky that no one did.”

This silicon ring graces both the cover of "Silicon" and Clarson
This silicon ring image was created by Jay Yocis.

Clarson points out that silicon in its many forms is of interest to people in technology (as in Silicon Valley), materials engineering, physics, devices, medicine, earth sciences, chemistry and other areas.

He adds that one of the journal’s associate editors is Jason Heikenfeld, associate professor of electrical engineering at UC.

“That’s unusual to have two faculty in such disparate fields be able to work together with overlapping materials,” Clarson notes. “I’m in materials and chemicals engineering, whereas Jason’s work is concentrated more in physics and electronic devices. But still we are both involved in silicon.”

Michelle Mehl, Giri Poojari, Chris Scottmiller and Dr. Clarson (from UC); Dr. Serhan Oztemiz (Three Bond), Andy Palsule (UC), Dr. Miriam Steinitz-Kannan (NKU) and Dr. Ram Kannan (WPAFB)
Michelle Mehl, Giri Poojari, Chris Scottmiller and Dr. Clarson (from UC); Dr. Serhan Oztemiz (Three Bond), Andy Palsule (UC), Dr. Miriam Steinitz-Kannan (NKU) and Dr. Ram Kannan (WPAFB)

Outside of Heikenfeld and Clarson, the editorial board for “Silicon” is truly global, with editors in Germany, England and Japan, and the editorial advisory board in Europe, Asia, Canada and throughout the United States. It is published in the Netherlands, with strong creative support from UC’s Creative Services Department. Clarson’s initial agreement with Springer is for five years. He sees part of his role of editor-in-chief is also that of mentor, grooming the associate editors for someday taking over the reins.

“You want anything you do to be self-sustaining,” he says. “Hopefully this will be one of the journals that will last.”

Susan Hershberger (Miami University), Clarson and Heather Bullen (NKU)
Susan Hershberger (Miami University), Clarson and Heather Bullen (NKU)

“Everyone knows what silicon is but it’s so broad, they don’t, really,” he says, noting that oxygen is the most common element in the earth’s crust and silicon is second. “I’m biased but I think it’s the most important element of the periodic table, too.”