(May 28, 2019) Prof. Bill Starnes (B.S. ‘55) was honored with the 2019 Chemical Pioneer Award from the American Institute of Chemists. The award recognizes chemists, chemical engineers, or their associates who have made outstanding contributions which have had a major impact on advances in chemical science and industry or the chemical profession.

Starnes is the Gottwald Professor Emeritus of the College of William and Mary and over his long and distinguished career both in industry and academia, he made many fundamental discoveries that led to the development of poly(vinyl chloride) (PVC) as one of today’s most ubiquitous materials.

These discoveries included the development of a method to determine its microstructure, investigation of PVC structural defects, elucidation of the machnistic pathways for the thermal decomposition and stabilization of PVC, determination of the mechanistic origins of smoke suppressants, fire retardants, and thermal stabilizers used in PVC, and the discovery of novel copolymers of vinyl chloride.

Starnes and his wife Sofia have been strong supporters of the department, and recently endowed the William H. Starnes, Jr. and Sofia M. Starnes Endowed Chemistry Fellowship to support graduate students who have exhibited excellence in their research studies. He also serves on the department’s advisory council and has proven to be an invaluable asset to the team that helps guide the department.