Alumni couple honored for long academic careers in chemistry

Date

04/07/21

Two long, distinguished academic careers in chemistry have come to an end in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry at the University Maryland with the retirements of professor William "Bill" Walters (PhD, '64, Hummel) and lecturer/instructor Barbara Walters (BS, '61; MS, '62). 

Bill completed his doctorate in physical chemistry at UIUC where he was a National Science Foundation Research fellow. The Kansas native went on to become an assistant professor of chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology until 1970 when he was recruited to join professor Glen Gordon in the analytical, nuclear and environmental chemistry group at the University of Maryland.

Their pioneering studies laid the groundwork for the entire field of analytical capture-gamma spectroscopy, which bombards materials with neutron beams to identify and analyze trace elements. Throughout Walters’ career, his research focused on using measurements of radioactivity to gain insight into a range of phenomena like proton-neutron interactions, the orientation of individual nuclei and the creation of exotic elements in supernova explosions.

His wife, Barbara Walters, graduated with a bachelor's degree and master's degree in chemistry at UIUC, and spent two years as a discussion and lab assistant in the Department of Chemistry at UIUC before the couple moved to Massachusetts. At UMD, Barbara began teaching chemistry in 1973 as an instructor and lecturer in inorganic, organic and engineering chemistry. She helped teach first- and second-year chemistry at UMD for nearly five decades.

Read more about the Walters and their academic journeys in chemistry.

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