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James M. Boncella Named Fellow in the American Chemical Society

James M. Boncella has been selected as a 2017 Fellow in the American Chemical Society (ACS)
James M. Boncella Named Fellow in the American Chemical Society

James M. Boncella

James M. Boncella, Deputy Group Leader in the Inorganic, Isotope and Actinide Chemistry (C-IIAC) group has been selected as a 2017 Fellow in the American Chemical Society (ACS)

The ACS Fellows Program recognizes members who have both made exceptional scientific contributions and who have provided excellent volunteer service to the ACS community. ACS is unusual amongst society Fellowships in requiring a such strong service component.

James was selected as Fellow for his seminal discoveries in actinide chemistry and for his long and distinguished history of service to the ACS, including serving as Chair of the Division of Inorganic Chemistry. His research in actinide organometallic chemistry led to the discovery of the bis(imido)U(VI) 2+ ion, which is the nitrogen analogue of the uranyl ion (UO2) 2+. This discovery has in turn led to the recent discovery of the Np compound (RN=)2Np(V)Cl(bipy)2, (with A. J. Gaunt) which is the first example of a transuranic compound with a metal-ligand multiple bond with a ligand other than oxide. The actinide research has helped to redefine and solidify the role of covalent interactions in actinide chemistry. His work has also included demonstrating photo-induced, trans-membrane electron transfer in vesicles made up of surfactants found in carbonaceous meteorites, the mechanisms of hydroxide ion initiated membrane decomposition, and co-discovery (with K. B. Wagener) of the acyclic diene metathesis (ADMET) polymerization reaction. Over his career, James has mentored 15 post-docs, three of whom are now faculty at Ph.D. granting institutions.

Since he joined ACS in 1981, James has made many significant contributions to the organization and held several formal positions. He has been Chair of the Division of Inorganic Chemistry, Member-at-Large, and Alternate Councilor of the same. The positions have required him to serve on numerous formal and ad hoc committees, and his duties as Chair included fund-raising, organizing membership drives, and organizing scientific symposia. In addition to his ACS work, he served as Chair of a Gordon Conference on Organometallic Chemistry in 2013, and in 2015 he was named the Neil Bartlett Lecturer at UC Berkeley.

In the words of his colleague, Dr. John Protsiewicz, a professor at Case Western Reserve University, and current chair of the ACS Division of Inorganic Chemistry “Jim's volunteer work with the Division of Inorganic Chemistry goes well above the standard workload of most division officers and he has made a huge positive impact on our division.”

Another colleague, Dr. Alfred Sattelberger, a Senior Advisor to the Director of Argonne National Laboratory, says of James’ scientific work documenting the synthesis and unique reactivity of uranium(VI) and uranium(V) bis- imido complexes, “This body of work has made its mark and has forever changed the way the inorganic and actinide communities think about high-valent uranium chemistry.”

James joins just five other LANL scientists with the rank of Fellow in the ACS. In 2016 there were 995 ACS Fellows world-wide. He has been a scientist at Los Alamos since 2003, and a deputy group leader since 2014.