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UAlbany Honors Top Researchers with Endowed Professorships

Contact: Catherine Herman (518) 437-4980

ALBANY, N.Y. (April 26, 2006) -- University at Albany President Kermit L. Hall named the first recipients of two endowed professorships at the Spring Faculty Meeting. Kenneth L. Demerjian, director of Atmospheric Sciences Research Center (ASRC) and professor in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Science was named as the first recipient Ray Falconer Endowed Chair in atmospheric sciences. Distinguished Professor of chemistry Eric Block will hold the Carla Rizzo Delray '42 Professorship.

"The University at Albany is becoming a recognized leader in the sciences both nationally and abroad," said Hall. "We owe this to the distinguished work of professors like Eric Block and Kenneth Demerjian, two of our most accomplished and devoted researchers in their respective fields. We gratefully acknowledge their work by naming them as the first professors to hold these endowed positions within the University at Albany."

Kenneth L. Demerjian

Kenneth L. Demerjian

Demerjian has dedicated his career to the study of air quality and atmospheric chemistry. "I firmly believe, as did Ray, that we are stewards of the environment and have a compelling obligation to protect and maintain it for future generations," said Demerjian. "I have every expectation that the opportunities afforded me through this endowed chair will enhance the University's research excellence in air quality science and will help educate our students and the public at large as to the necessity and responsibility each of us has in sustaining the health of our global environment."

"It is a great honor and privilege to be the first to hold the Ray Falconer Endowed Research Chair," said Demerjian. "I would like to sincerely thank President Hall for bringing this endowment to fruition and his confidence in selecting me to hold this honored position. Ray Falconer's untiring efforts in the pursuit of educational outreach through his radio weather forecasts and Whiteface Mountain lecture series were visionary and made a significant impact in enlightening the public on the wonders of the physical sciences and the environment. His efforts attracted thousands of interested followers over the years not the least of whom was Gertrude Thompson, an enthusiastic supporter of ASRC and Ray's educational outreach programs."

A 1964 (M.S.) and 1967 (Ph.D.) graduate of Harvard University and a former Guggenheim Fellow, Block is one the world's foremost experts on the chemistry of the element sulfur.  In particular, Block's work in understanding the chemistry of the sulfur compounds in garlic, onions and other genus Allium plants has resulted in numerous articles and awards, including the Kenneth A. Spencer Award from the Kansas City Section of the American Chemical Society and the| Chancellor's Research Recognition Award from the State University of New York, both in 2003. In 2002, Block was named Distinguished Professor, the University's highest rank accorded to faculty.

Eric Block

Eric Block


"I greatly appreciate the honor of being the first UAlbany faculty member to hold the Carla Rizzo Delray '42 Professorship," said Block. "I am deeply touched by the commitment made by Ms. Delray to support not only the research efforts of my colleagues in chemistry but in all the physical sciences."

The Ray Falconer Endowed Chair was formed through a bequest by Gertrude Thompson, a retired psychologist who passed away in 1997 at the age of 89. Thompson owned a camp in the Adirondacks and frequently attended a series of summer lectures organized by University at Albany meteorologist Ray Falconer at ASRC's Whiteface Mountain Field Station. The endowment for the position now stands at $1.5 million.

The Carla Rizzo Delray '42 Professorship is named in honor of Carla Rizzo Delray, a 1942 graduate of the New York State College for Teachers and former researcher for General Electric's Research & Development Center who worked on artificial intelligence projects. Delray died in 2000. The endowed professorship now stands at $1.3 million. Lecture Center 4, a 100-seat, high-tech computer facility in the University's Campus Center, was also named after Delray in 1995.


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