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Higher Education
UHCL chemistry professor receives PROSE award for encyclopedia
News Release
Thursday, March 08, 2018

HOUSTON — University of Houston-Clear Lake Professor of Chemistry Daniel Zerong Wang is recipient of a 2018 PROSE Award, the Association of American Publishers’ highest honors for professional and scholarly works.

Wang won the award in the category of Multivolume Reference/Science for the “Encyclopedia of Physical Organic Chemistry,” published by the prestigious John Wiley & Sons, Inc. in 2017. Wang who served as editor-in-chief of the project, shares the award with co-editors Uta Wille, an associate professor at the University of Melbourne, Australia, and Eusebio Juaristi, a chemistry professor at Mexico’s Center for Research and Advanced Studies of the National Polytechnic Institute in Mexico City.

The encyclopedia provides the most comprehensive references available to physical organic chemistry, including the methodology and techniques. It puts the discipline into the context of modern and dynamic fields such as biochemistry, materials science and molecular electronics.

Its six volumes took about six years to produce, Wang said. “I spent nearly one year developing the table of contents,” he said, and added that it wasn’t a task he had intended to tackle.

In 2009, Wiley published the professor’s three-volume compendium on named organic reactions. “Due to the success of that book, in 2011, I received call from the editor at Wiley who spent a half hour to convince me to develop this encyclopedia.”

Wang was tapped as editor-in-chief with four associate editors. Each editor was responsible for at least one of the encyclopedia’s volumes. Because of the extensive nature of the project, two editors bailed early. Juaristi had to quit midway but is still listed as co-editor.

Wang juggled the project while teaching classes and pursuing his own research interests. “I sent out 10 to 20 emails a day to solicit potential authors,” he said.

Wang had to put much of his own research on hold as he edited highly technical manuscripts, some of them multiple times. “I had to step in and take over all responsibility assigned to those three associate editors.”

Still, Wang has another book in the works: a reference on amino acids. “It will be the first of its kind to summarize all potentials of using amino acid as the starting materials in organic synthesis,” he said.

Since 1976, the annual PROSE Awards have recognized outstanding professional and scholarly publishing by bringing attention to distinguished books and journals. In recent years it has added electronic content into consideration. Submissions are reviewed by a panel of 18 judges – editors, academics, publishers and research librarians who evaluate each work for its contribution to publishing.

In 2017, Wang received the UHCL President’s Distinguished Research Award for a body of work that also included 10 books, two patents, 25 peer-reviewed articles and 20 research grants. He received his doctorate from Shanghai Institute of Organic Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Science.

Remembering Jim Guidry

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