CSW Remembers Dr. Leopold May
Dr. Leopold May (b 11/26/23) chemist, spectroscopist, researcher, teacher, editor, historian, symphonophile, and poet died of natural causes 6/17/12. Dr. May was a faculty member at The Catholic University of America (CUA) for 53 years, and ACS member for 67 years, a member of the American Society for Testing and Materials, International Commission on the Application of the Mossbauer Effect, Mossbauer Spectroscopy Colloquium for the Greater Washington Area, Phi Lambda Upsilon, Sigma Pi Sigma, and the Propagation of the Music of Chemist-Composers Society. He was actively engaged in the Chemical Society of Washington (CSW), local chapter of the ACS.
Doctor May was the recipient of several awards: Engineering Education (65): NASA; Service Award (65 & 08) SAS; (04) ACS; Summer Faculty Fellowship (74 & 5) NASA; Exchange Scientist (74-8): USA/USSR Academies of Science, The Benemerenti Medal (88) CUA; Special Recognition Award For Milestones in Chemistry Calendar (94) ACS; Elected as a member of Sigma Pi Sigma(2004) Morgan State and Sigma Pi Sigma (07) Morgan State Editor's Choice Award (04) Poetry.com; Appreciation for Significant Contributions (08) CSW; Recognized for Outstanding Contributions to the advancement of the field of Spectroscopy and its Applications (08), SAS.
His interest in chemistry was sparked with a chemistry set received as a Bar Mitzvah gift. He participated in the American Institute of Science and Engineering Exhibit at the New York World's Fair in 1940. He graduated from: Francis Cleafield High School (NY), City College (NY) BChE 44 and Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn (NY) MS49, PhD 51. His academic training was interrupted by service as a Naval Radio Technicianâ€™s Program Instructor (44-49).
After short term positions at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, Brooklyn College, Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland School of Medicine. In 1959 he joined the faculty of CUA, earning tenure in 1961 and promoted to full professor in 1982 and professor emeritus 1997. In 1996 Dr. May was in a crippling accident. He returned to his laboratory in 1997 and continued to work in his laboratory until May of 2012. A strong supporter of undergraduate research, Dr. May worked with numerous undergraduates, and organized the first three Washington area Undergraduate Research Symposia
During his career Dr. May made contributions to biology, biochemistry, lipid and protein dynamics and chemistry, bio-inorganic chemistry (one of the first scientists to apply Mossbauer spectroscopy to biological samples), chemistry of inorganic complexes, antibiotic resistance, chemical ecology, archaeology, as well as analytical and forensic chemistry. During his career Dr. May authored or co-authored 132 papers (32 after his accident) in more than 60 journals working with more than 130 collaborators (several undergraduates) from four continents. Dr. May contributed chapters to 22 books and monographs. Dr. May spent time teaching, conducting research and/or collaborating with scientists at a variety of institutions: lecturer (63-68): Canisius College (NY); guest worker (67-8): National Bureau of Standards (now NIST, MD); visiting associate professor (72-3) : Tel Aviv University (Israel); visiting scientist (72-3) Soreq Nuclear Physics Centre (Israel); NASA/ASEE Summer Faculty Fellow: Goddard Space Flight Center(75 & 75) and Naval Medical Research Institute (83) (MD); Exchange Scientist (76-7 & 8): Institute of Chemical Physics, USA/USSR (Moscow) Academies of Sciences, Visiting Professor of Chemistry (78): Banaras Hindu University (India); Visiting Research Professor (78-82 & 88-90) Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute; Lima Peru (Fulbright scholar 80), Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, (Visiting Scientist 87). Senior Lecturer Fulbright Program (80): Lima Peru; Visiting Professor of Physics (84-5) Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Israel); Chemist (87) Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Co-Director (89) Mossbauer Spectroscopy Institute, Industrial Applications (TX); and Research Mentor and Scientist (00-3): Morgan State University (MD)
In addition to research and teaching duties, Dr. May was a managing editor (60-1), then Editor-in-Chief (61-4) finally serving on the editorial board (68-75) for the journal: Applied Spectroscopy and served as president (71) of the Society of Applied Spectroscopy (SAS) in 71. During this period he conceived and edited three books of "Spectroscopic Tricks" and the book: "Introduction to Mossbauer Spectroscopy." From 1962 until 1985, he compiled a bibliography of Mossbauer Effect Data of biological molecules. He was a member of the Advisory board (92-) for MIX (Electronic Journal on Mossbauer Spectroscopy. Applying his editor's skills to chemical history Dr. May produced several calendars with dates of historical interest in chemistry, spectroscopy and Mossbauer spectroscopy and for the SAS. He began publishing the "Chemist of the Month" which has recently become a Facebook page. His lists of chemical history were published in numerous newsletters of ACS local sections. In the last several years Dr. May combined his love of classical music and chemistry founding (06) the Society for Propagation of the Music of Chemist-Composers to promote chemists who composed music and composers that were amateur chemists. Since its inception the Society of Chemical Composes has arranged several "Chemist Composers" concerts in the US and abroad.
He is survived by his brother, wife, two sons, daughter-in-law and grandson.