Oklahoma State University


Horacio A. Mottola (1930-2015)

Neil Purdie (1935-2014)

Clarence M. Cunningham (1920-2014)

Ernest M. Hodnett (1914-2014)


Horacio A. Mottola (1930-2015)*


mottola     Horacio A. Mottola, an Emeritus Regents Professor of Chemistry at Oklahoma State University, died on June 3, 2015, at his home in Florida. He was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on March 22, 1930. He received his undergraduate and graduate education at the University of Buenos Aires, earning Licentiate and Doctoral degrees in Chemistry in 1962. He spent 2 years of pre-doctoral research studies at the University of Minnesota (with the late Ernest B. Sandell) and 2 years of postdoctoral studies at the University of Arizona (Tucson) in Professor Henry Freiser’s research group. After teaching for 2 years at the University of the Pacific (Stockton, California), he joined Oklahoma State in the autumn of 1967. He retired from Oklahoma State in June 1998. Professor Mottola was Chairman of the Chemistry Department at Oklahoma State from March 1991 until March 1994. He has authored more than 155 papers in refereed journals, co-edited a monograph on Chemical Modification of Surfaces, and is the author of a book on Kinetic Aspects of Analytical Chemistry. He and his research group developed a closed-loop flow system with the circulating enzyme glucose oxidase. Injection of glucose samples, followed by an evaluation of oxygen consumption at an exposed platinum wire electrode, enabled the quantitative determination of glucose. This glucose analyzer allowed a medical technician to determine the glucose level in a blood sample within 1-5 minutes. The method was adopted by Eppendorf Corporation and was in use in hospitals in Belgium France, Germany, and the Netherlands.

     Professor Mottola was a member of the Editorial Board of Analytica Chimica Acta. He received numerous awards, including the Oklahoma Scientist of the Year (1981) from the Oklahoma Academy of Sciences, the Oklahoma Chemist of the Year (1990), and the Sigma Xi Award (1981). During the latter part of his tenure at OSU, Dr. Mottola was honored by the journal Analytical Chemistry by having his work over many years cited as one of the best 60 papers published over 6 decades. He was an excellent colleague, friend, teacher, and a credit to OSU.

* shared by Dr. K. Darrell Berlin





NEIL PURDIE (1935-2014)*

purdie2     Dr. Neil Purdie passed away on November 6, 2014, after an extended illness. He was born in Castle Douglas, Scotland on September 16, 1935. He attended Kirkcudbright Academy, where he won the Hamilton Prize and Sports Champion in 1953. He earned his undergraduate degree and Ph.D. from the University of Glasgow in chemistry with honors. He moved to the United States in 1963 to accept a post doctoral fellowship at the Brookhaven National Lab in New York. After returning to Scotland for a few years, he accepted an offer of an Assistant Professorship in the Chemistry Department at OSU in 1965.

     Neil then spent the next 46 years at OSU performing research and teaching. His mentorship included about 15,000 undergraduates and 34 graduate students. He was able to relate to students in a most inspiring manner, which facilitated the learning process. His teaching skills were exceptional and were documented by his winning the A&S Teaching Award (1968-69), the Amoco Award (1980), the Alumni Blue Key Award (1981), the Oklahoma Medal for Excellence-Teaching at the College/University Level (1990), the OSU Mortar Board (1991), and Regents Distinguished Teaching Award (1995). He was Chair of the Chemistry Department for more than 20 years. His excellent and long-time service was recognized by his appointment to a Regents Distinguished Service Professorship (2009). His research resulted in 85 publications. one book, and 11 book chapters, along with holding 13 patents. He was awarded the Oklahoma Academy of Scientist of the Year (2000) for his research which was magnified by his also receiving the Oklahoma Chemist Award in 2005. He was respected across campus. He retired in 2011.

     He was an avid soccer fan, he loved golf, and he had a passion for theater. Golf was his stress reliever even when playing alone. His daughter Raegen was an outstanding soccer player at the Stillwater high school. Neil was also a very active participant in 26 stage plays at the Town and Gown Theater in Stillwater. Neil is survived by his wife, Robin, three sons and one daughter. OSU was favored to have the services of a scientist of the caliber of Dr. Neil Purdie for nearly half a century.

* relayed by Professor K. Darrell Berlin


Clarence M. Cunningham (1920-2014)*



Dr. Clarence Marion Cunningham was born in Cooper, Texas, on July 24, 1920. He passed away on March 23, 2015, at his home surrounded by his family. He received his early education in the Texas public school system, after which he entered Texas A&M where he earned a B.S. degree in chemical engineering in 1942. After completing military service in WW II and national guard duty, ending as a colonel, he earned an M.S. degree in physical chemistry from the University of California-Berkley. He matriculated to Ohio State University and completed his Ph.D. in 1954, after which he joined the chemistry faculty at OSU in that fall. He taught freshman chemistry and physical chemistry during his career at OSU. Several students completed both M.S. and Ph.D. degrees under his tutelage

His community service was extraordinary, especially serving as scoutmaster of the Boy Scout Troop 98 for 15 years. He became chairman of the BSA district council and was recognized by the Boy Scouts of America with the Silver beaver Scout leader Award. He and his wife, Janet, created the Janet Cunningham Nursing Foundation Scholarship at the Stillwater Medical Center.   He is survived by his four children and several other relatives.

* shared by Dr. K. Darrell Berlin 



Ernest M Hodnett (1914-2014)*


hodnettsmDr. Ernest M Hodnett was born February 6, 1914, earned an BS (1936) and MS (1939) degree in chemistry at the University of Florida.  He matriculated to Purdue University where he completed a PhD (1945) in organic chemistry under Professor Earl T. McBee.  He joined the faculty in chemistry at OSU in the fall of 1945.  He rose through the ranks to become a full Professor in 1957. 

            His research embraced several areas actively pursued at the time and included the use of radioactive C-14 as a tracer to study reaction mechanisms.  In addition, his investigations focused on the use of the “isotope effect” in the critical assessment of such reaction mechanisms.  He was a pioneer in the use of the radioisotope C-14 labeling to evaluate the polymerization of styrenes.  Polystyrenes are well known today and are of great commercial value as insulators for houses and in polystyrene drinking cups, to name a few uses. 

            Dr. Hodnett introduced the first graduate course in heterocyclic and medicinal chemistry, which attracted industrial chemists in the area as well as local students.  He was very adept at training his graduate students to not only exercise caution, via good safety practices, but also to think carefully about their research.  He was a gentle, kind man who was a good listener and a friendly council to all who sought his advice, especially his graduate students.  In the Fall of 1959, following the construction of the new Physical Sciences building, he was one of four senior faculty who moved their research laboratories into the new building. 

            He retired from OSU in 1979 after 34 years of service.  Within a few years after retirement, he moved to Wisconsin to live with his daughter and family.  With the passage of time, his health changed and forced the family to move him to Tennessee to an assisted living facility.  He passed from this life on January 30, 2014, just 6 days short of his 100th birthday.

* shared by Professors K. Darrell Berlin and John I. Gelder