UC Santa Barbara has received a $500,000 gift from alumnus M. Ross Johnson and his wife, Charlotte, to establish an endowed fellowship fund to recruit and support outstanding graduate students in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.
Johnson, who earned a doctorate in organic chemistry from UCSB, is an internationally recognized medicinal chemist and pharmaceutical and biotechnology entrepreneur.
He is co-founder and president of Parion Services, a pharmaceutical company in North Carolina.
The Johnsons established the graduate fellowship to honor his doctoral advisor, UCSB Professor Emeritus Bruce Rickborn.
Rickborn is a renowned organic chemist and a devoted teacher.
During his 39-year career at UCSB, more than 30 graduate students obtained doctoral degrees under his direction.
Rickborn considers his work with graduate students as his most important contribution to science.
"Professor Rickborn played a great role in my success and the success of many other UCSB students as well," said Ross Johnson.
"We could think of no better way to honor him than to establish a fellowship in his name that would attract future generations of top students to UCSB.
It is our way of giving back to the community and honoring a truly deserving mentor."
Alec Wodtke, chair of UCSB's Chemistry and Biochemistry Department, said: "Ross Johnson has shown both wisdom and generosity in providing a permanent fund to support the development of young people's careers in science.
This is a wonderful tribute to his scientific mentor Bruce Rickborn.
It is a double dose of heartwarming goodness!"
Rickborn said he was touched by the couple's generosity. "Ross Johnson was among our earliest Ph.D.s, and he continues to enjoy a very successful and entrepreneurial career as an organic chemist," said Rickborn.
"I am moved and honored that he insisted that I be included in the name of the fellowship, and delighted that he has chosen to remember his UCSB days with this important support."
Endowments ensure the future excellence of the campus because they provide ongoing support that can be used to fund scholarships, fellowships, teaching, and research.
UCSB's distinguished Chemistry and Biochemistry Department offers programs leading to a B.S. degree in chemistry or biochemistry or a B.A. degree in chemistry.
In addition, M.S., M.A. or Ph.D. degrees may be obtained in any one of the special fields of analytical, biological, inorganic, organic, materials, physical, or theoretical chemistry. Approximately 470 undergraduate majors and more than 150 graduate students are enrolled in the department.