In 1959, Eldon Sund was a
graduate student at the University of Texas, studying for his Ph.D. in organic
“If you were going to be a
chemist, you joined the American Chemical Society,” Sund said. So he did. Now,
60 years later, the ACS has recognized Sund for his longtime membership. He was
presented with a certificate at Midwestern State University’s McCoy School of
Science, Mathematics & Engineering Awards Banquet April 29.
Sund did become a chemist and
after receiving his Ph.D., worked for DuPont for six years. But Sund felt something
wasn’t right. That changed when he came to MSU in 1967 to teach chemistry. “Now
I can’t see myself doing anything other than teaching,” he said.
Sund took his teaching to
heart, visiting area high schools to recruit students who were interested in
science. His main interest focused on heterocyclics, placing non-carbon atoms
in ring compounds and how that changed the physical properties of the compound,
and he worked with students to accomplish their own heterocyclic research. “That
research resulted in more than 20 papers being published with the students
being named as co-authors,” Sund said.
Because chemistry is a
fast-moving field of knowledge, Sund maintains his ACS membership to stay up to
date on news in the world of chemistry.
Elizabeth Zubritsky, manager
of Society and Media Relations at the ACS, said that Sund belongs to a select
group of ACS members. “Less than 3% of the ACS’s membership reaches the
milestone of 60 or more years of service.” The ACS is the world’s largest
scientific society and one of the world’s leading sources of authoritative
scientific information. It was founded in 1876, chartered by the U.S. Congress.
Today, it has a membership of more than 150,000 in more than 140 countries.
“You can’t be a scientist
without being curious,” Sund said of his philosophy on his profession. “Your
brain will atrophy if it’s not challenged. The brain is lazy – you have to push
it.” Although Sund retired from MSU in 1995, retirement has not lessened his
curiosity. He continues to find ways to push himself, and his brain. He and his
wife, Roberta, have traveled the world, visiting all seven continents.
Nowadays, his curiosity and
fascination are focused on something other than heterocyclic compounds – his volunteer
work with the Wichita Adult Literacy Council. Sund said that 23% of Texans
can’t read a newspaper. “But they’re clever, they’ve learned to disguise the
fact that they can’t read.”
At the awards banquet, Sund
was presented his 60-year certificate following the announcement of the Dr.
Eldon H. Sund Chemistry Scholarship recipients. In a career that includes being
a Fulbright exchange professor in London, a sabbatical at Princeton University,
a year as a visiting professor at the University of Hawaii, and being named
Hardin Professor in 1975, MSU’s highest honor for professors, it is that
scholarship that is Sund’s main point of pride.
One of his early students at
MSU asked if he could start a scholarship for chemistry majors in Sund’s name –
not an easy task as they would need to raise at least $25,000. It took less
than a year. Today, the funds have tripled. This year’s recipients are
Salvatore Capotosto and Bailey Smoot.
“That’s one of my proudest
achievements,” Sund said of this legacy at MSU Texas.
Photo -- Dr. Eldon Sund (right), Professor Emeritus of Chemistry at
Midwestern State University, was presented a certificate celebrating his 60
years of membership in the American Chemical Society by MSU Associate Professor
of Chemistry Jianguo Shao.