Dr James R. Arnold named as first Harold Urey Professor of Chemistry

April 15, 1983

Dr. James R. Arnold, professor of chemistry and director of the California Space Institute at the University of California, San Diego, has been named as the first Harold Urey Professor of Chemistry at UCSD.

Arnold, an internationally known authority on moon rocks and meteorites, joined the Department of Chemistry at UCSD at its inception in 1958 and was appointed professor and first chairman of the department in 1960.

"Jim Arnold is one of the eminent scientific researchers on our faculty," said UCSD Chancellor Richard C. Atkinson. "His association with Harold Urey goes back many years and his association with UCSD stems from the very first years of the San Diego campus. It is fitting that he has been honored as the first holder of the Harold C. Urey Chair in Chemistry."

The dedication of the Urey Chair and the conferring of the professorship on Arnold will take place on the UCSD campus on Friday, April 29. A plaque listing the major donors to the establishment of the chair will be unveiled at 3 p.m. in the Urey Room located in Urey Hall on the Revelle College campus. The conferring of the professorship and a major inaugural lecture by Arnold will take place at 4:30 p.m. in Garren Auditorium in the Basic Science Building at the School of Medicine.

The goal of raising $250,000 to establish the Harold Clayton Urey Chair in Chemistry at UCSD was reached last month. According to Dr. Russell Doolittle, chairman of the UCSD Department of Chemistry, the total was reached through a combination of gifts from friends and colleagues of the late Nobel Prize winner, several foundations and corporations, and a major gift from the Urey family which was matched by Cecil and Ida Green of La Jolla and Dallas, Texas.

Urey, one of the university's most illustrious professors, died in January 1981. He won the Nobel Prize for his discovery of deuterium, or heavy hydrogen, which ushered in the atomic age. When the UCSD graduate School of Science and Engineering was first formed in 1958, Urey was a founding member of the faculty.

Arnold was born in Metuchen, New Jersey, in 1923, the son of a lawyer and archaeologist. He graduated from Princeton University in 1943 and continued his graduate work there, receiving his Ph.D. in 1946. During this time he was associated with the Manhattan Project for two years.

He served as a postdoctoral fellow at the newly formed Institute for Nuclear Studies at the University of Chicago and, in 1947, moved to Harvard University as a National Research Fellow. He returned to Chicago one year later to work with W. F. Libby in the development of radiocarbon dating.

In 1955, Arnold joined the chemistry department of Princeton University and moved to UCSD three years later.

In the 1950s, Arnold was one of the developers of the liquid scintillation spectrometer for carbon-14 and tritium, the latter a radioactive form of hydrogen. He discovered a number of cosmic-ray-produced radio isotopes in nature, and studied their distribution in the natural environment.

In the 1960s his work was mainly on cosmic-ray products in meteorites and (more recently) lunar samples. With several colleagues he demonstrated the approximate constancy of the cosmic-ray flux over periods up to millions of years. Arnold is a consultant to NASA and has served as associate editor of the Journal of Chemical Physics and chairman of the sub-committee on radiochemistry of the National Research Council.

In 1966-68 he served on the International Technical Cooperation and Assistance Panel of the President's Science Advisory Committee and has been a member of several committees of the National Academy of Sciences. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1964 and was a recipient of the Atomic Energy Commission's E. 0. Lawrence Award in 1968.

In 1970, Arnold was honored by NASA with its medal for "Exceptional Scientific Achievement," recognizing his work on lunar samples assigned to him by NASA for analysis. In 1976 he received the Leonard Medal of the Meteoritical Society. In 1980 he became the first director of the University's newly established California Space Institute, a statewide research organization with emphasis on the useful applications of space. Arnold also holds the unique honor of having an asteroid named for him. Asteroid "2143 Jimarnold" was named for him by the two planetologists who discovered it in 1973 because "he's a fine friend and colleague whose work laid the groundwork for ours."

For more information contact: Paul W. West, 452-3120

(April 15, 1983)