In honor of his 70th birthday, Utah State University chemist Alexander Boldyrev is the recipient of a lifetime tribute bestowed upon very few scholars. USU’s inaugural R. Gaurth Hansen Professor was recognized with a “festschrift” special virtual issue published online Oct. 28, 2021, by The Journal of Physical Chemistry A.
“This is a rare and much-deserved honor,” says Lance Seefeldt, head of USU’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. “A festschrift, which roughly translates from German as ‘celebration writing or publication’ is a commemorative body of work recognizing someone for a lifetime of high achievement in a specialized area. Alex is being honored by one of the premier physical chemistry journals of the American Chemical Society with an impressive list of contributing writers, including a number of his former students.”
USU alumna Anastassia Alexandrova, PhD ’05, who proposed the honor to the journal says Boldyrev’s festschrift, with more than 79 papers authored by scholars throughout the world, is among the largest JPC has ever published.
“Dr. Boldyrev’s contributions to physical chemistry are prolific and internationally recognized,” says Alexandrova, professor and Vice Chair for Undergraduate Education in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of California, Los Angeles. “The journal readily accepted the proposal and, when we invited possible contributors, the response was overwhelming. That shows the very high level of respect the international physical chemistry community has for Alex.”
Throughout his career, which began in the former Soviet Union, Boldyrev has discovered a wide variety of new classes of chemical species, including all-metal aromatic clusters, inorganic helixes, superhalogens and superalkalis, planar boron clusters and boron wheels binding transition-metal atoms with extreme coordination numbers of over 10. The unique cover of his festschrift, depicting a celebratory glimpse of his work, was created by USU chemistry graduate Marina Popova, PhD ’18. Popova, incidentally, is the wife of one of Boldyrev’s recent USU mentees, Ivan Popov, PhD ’17, assistant professor of chemistry at the University of Akron.
“Alex treats his students like family and does everything he can to help them succeed,” Alexandrova says. “His students would do everything to honor him, so it’s no surprise we all enthusiastically threw our efforts together help him receive this recognition.”
Boldyrev says he’s “very humbled” by the honor from the physical chemistry community.
“Very few people receive this kind of recognition and I’m very touched,” says the USU faculty member, who joined the university in 1999.
Boldyrev was named Hansen Professor in November 2020. He received the ACS Utah Award in Chemistry in 2008 and USU’s D. Wynne Thorne Career Research Award, the university’s highest research honor, in 2009. A prolific research writer, Boldyrev, who has garnered long-standing National Science Foundation support, has an impressive h-index (a measurement of research impact) of 77, and his work has been cited in more than 20,000 papers.