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McLean awarded Herty Medal for chemistry achievements, distinguished service

Posted by on Monday, March 25, 2024 in AS Home, News Story, Research.

John A. McLean, Stevenson Professor of Chemistry and dean of graduate education and research in the College of Arts and Science, has been named the winner of this year’s Charles H. Herty Medal by the Georgia Section of the American Chemical Society. The award recognizes outstanding work and service by a chemist in the Southeast.

Man smilingMcLean is recognized for the development and application of new technologies for ultrafast structural measurement, primarily utilizing ion mobility-mass spectrometry strategies in health and medicine, as well as distinguished service in professional societies, academics, government, industry, and for the promotion of young scientists and advancement of diversity and inclusion in the chemical sciences.

Notably, McLean becomes the second Vanderbilt chemist to receive the award in recent years, highlighting the significant impact that the Department of Chemistry is making in the field. Sandra Rosenthal, Jack and Pamela Egan Professor of Chemistry and chair of the chemistry department, won the award in 2018 for her development of nanocrystals and contributions to STEM education. McLean is only the third Vanderbilt chemist to receive the award in its 80-year history.

“The inscription on the Herty Medal is ‘Pro scientia et patria,’ meaning ‘for science and nation,’” said Rosenthal. “John’s career is emblematic of this motto. Not only is John an outstanding scientist, but like Charles Herty himself, John parlays his science for the greater good, whether it be economic development, advancing the health of the citizenry, or providing leadership to professional associations and within the Vanderbilt. John is highly deserving of this honor and given that the award has come to Vanderbilt twice in just six years, his success brings additional luster to our department.”

McLean’s research focuses on the design, construction, and application of advanced technologies for structural mass spectrometry. Mass spectrometers are used to weigh, identify, and quantify compounds on a molecular scale to characterize the molecules present in complex biological samples. By understanding the molecules present, more accurate and effective diagnoses, therapeutics, or interventions can be achieved across a variety of human diseases.

The McLean Research Group is a pioneer in the development and application of ion mobility-mass spectrometry (IM-MS) for omics analysis, which is an integrated, two-dimensional analytical technique that provides rapid separations based on molecular size and mass. The lab has been named a Waters Corporation Center of Innovation and an Agilent Technologies Thought Leader Laboratory.

“I am truly honored to be recognized in this way on behalf of the extraordinary collective efforts of the many students, staff, faculty, and collaborators who have made our research possible,” said McLean. “To be noted for outstanding research of benefit to society and beyond is reflective of the wonderful team of scientists with whom I have the privilege of working to advance scientific discovery for us all.”

McLean is a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In addition to numerous external awards, he has been recognized by Vanderbilt with the Chancellor’s Award for Research (2022) and the Thomas Jefferson Award (2021), the latter for distinguished service to the university through extraordinary contributions.

He serves or has served on the boards of major scientific societies, journals, and companies, and is a past chair of the Vanderbilt Faculty Senate and the College of Arts and Science Faculty Council. Before assuming the role of dean of graduate education and research, McLean served as the associate provost for graduate education, where he worked closely with the Graduate School and the associate deans in the colleges and schools to advocate for support of Ph.D. students and the faculty who train and mentor them.

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