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Jonathan Amy presented Honorary Doctorate


Writer(s): Steve Scherer, R. Graham Cooks, Purdue News Service


Jonathan W. Amy, of Lafayette, Indiana, was presented an honorary doctorate at Purdue's commencement ceremony in May 2014. His doctoral degree work in the mid-1950s resulted in the formal creation of Purdue's Chemistry Instrumentation Facility, with a mission of fusing science and technology through collaboration and creation.

The lab is named the Jonathan Amy Instrumentation Facility, and some 60 years later, the mission has expanded to include much of the university.

Prof. Jonathan Amy conceived and implemented a unique vision for research in the chemical sciences involving a partnership between faculty, graduate students and a professional instrumentation staff that has made indelible contributions to research, industrial interactions and faculty careers at Purdue over the past 50 years. This model, implemented as the Jonathan W. Amy Facility for Chemical Instrumentation, has been widely admired nationally.

To illustrate its impact, five Purdue chemists – including Jon Amy himself – have won the American Chemical Society’s award in Chemical Instrumentation. An unselfish person, Prof. Amy established the infrastructure that allowed the success of the others. Similarly, Jon Amy’s influence was deeply felt by each of seven Purdue people who have won the highest national award in analytical chemistry, the ACS Analytical Chemistry award. That seven Purdue people should have excelled at the level represented by these awards is in significant part due to the infrastructure that Jon Amy created.

Dr. Amy used strong personal ties to the fledgling tech industry nationally to introduce not-yet-commercialized instrumentation with a huge competitive advantage to Purdue. He did this in gas chromatography, in mass spectrometry, in x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, in high field NMR and in laser spectroscopy. Many outstanding chemists at Purdue joined the institution (or turned down competitive offers to stay here) because of Jon Amy.

Prof. Scott McLuckey has a unique perspective on this having worked on instrumentation with direct help from Jon Amy as a graduate student, then having spent two decades in a well-equipped National Lab he returned to Purdue in 2000: “Jonathan Amy established a facility and, more importantly, a culture that enables Purdue researchers to realize dreams.”

Once and current Chemistry Department Head Tim Zwier notes that “This legacy of strong partnership between the Amy facility and our starting assistant professors is one that remains today, accelerating the research productivity of our young faculty and setting our department apart from its peers.”

Jonathan Amy’s record decidedly does not lie in his publications but in the many people whom he influenced very deeply. His career is a refreshing example of unselfish service of the highest quality to Purdue University.