The ACS Division of Organic Chemistry named Amos B. Smith, III, Rhodes-Thompson Professor of Chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, the winner of the 2014 Paul G. Gassman Distinguished Service Award. The award, sponsored by the Division of Organic Chemistry, was established in 1994 to recognize outstanding service to the organic chemistry community. Presented biannually at the divisional executive committee dinner of the Fall ACS National Meeting, the award consists of $3,000 and a plaque.
Professor Smith received his early education at Bucknell University, where in 1966 he earned Bucknell University’s first combined four-year B.S.-M.S. degree in Chemistry. After a year in medical school (University of Pennsylvania), he earned his Ph.D. degree (University of Pennsylvania, 1972) and completed a year as a Research Associate at Rockefeller University. In 1973, he joined the Department of Chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania; currently, he is the Rhodes-Thompson Professor of Chemistry. He is a Member of the Monell Chemical Senses Center, and from 1976-2000, he was a Member of the Laboratory for Research on the Structure of Matter (LRSM). In 2001, he was appointed as an Honorary Member at the Kitasato Institute, where he has served as Visiting Director.
In a timeframe spanning over 30 years, Amos has served the organic community through his active participation in the ACS Division of Organic Chemistry and various editorial advisory boards and study sections and beginning in 2012, the ACS governing board for publishing. For the DOC he began volunteering in the 1980’s, assuming different roles on the Executive Committee such as chairing the National Organic Symposium at Montana State University in 1993, and chairing the Executive Committee in 1996. Shortly thereafter, Professor Smith assumed the role of Founding Editor-in-Chief for Organic Letters, a new ACS journal for chemical communications in organic chemistry. Under Professor Smith’s guidance Organic Letters has experienced extraordinary worldwide success and rapidly became a premiere journal for publications in the field.
Smith’s research interests encompass three diverse areas: natural product synthesis, bioorganic chemistry and materials science. To date more than 85 architecturally complex natural products have been prepared in his Laboratory. In addition, Smith, in collaboration with Ralph Hirschmann, has achieved the design and synthesis of non-peptide peptidomimetics of neuropeptideic hormone/transmitters and protease enzyme inhibitors and, also with Stephen Benkovic (Penn State), haptens for the production of catalytic antibodies capable of peptide bond formation. At Monell, in collaboration with Peter Jurs (Penn State), he pioneered the use of computerized pattern recognition techniques for the analysis of primate chemical communication. Collaborative programs at the LRSM include the chemistry and physics of novel liquid crystals and the fullerenes. More recent studies with the late Professor Robin Hochstrasser involve the development of ultrafast photochemical triggers to explore peptide/protein folding.
Amos has been recognized for his contributions to our science by numerous national and international awards including the Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award (1991), the ACS Ernest Guenther Award (1993), the ACS Award for Creativity in Organic Chemistry (1997), the Centenary Medal, Royal Society of Chemistry, London, (2002), the Yamada Prize (Tokyo, Japan) (2003), the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon from the Government of Japan (2004), RSC Simonsen Medal (2008), Inaugural Fellow, American Chemical Society (2009), D.Sc. (honoris causa), Queens University, Belfast, Northern Ireland (2009) and the William H. Nichols Award from the New York Section of the ACS (2014).