College of Natural & Agricultural Sciences


Graduate student Anh Hong has won the inaugural Thomas H. Morton Memorial Award in recognition of her outstanding research accomplishments and her broad interests in science and the world. Anh came to UCR in 2017 and has been completing her dissertation under the guidance of Professor Pingyun Feng. Anh’s research focuses on the development of metal-organic framework materials for gas storage and separation. She has been extraordinarily productive, co-authoring 14 publications during graduate school, including multiple papers in top-tier journals such as Angewandte Chemie International Edition and the Journal of the American Chemical Society. Her recent first-author Angewandte Chemie paper describing a new synthesis concept for creating anionic metal-organic frameworks based on shifting the location of the negative charge was selected as a “VIP article” by the journal, indicating it is among the top 5% of papers published in that prestigious journal. Professor Feng attributes Anh’s success in multiple different research directions as stemming from her hard work, dedication, and creativity. In the course of her research, Anh has collaborated with researchers across materials science, bioanalytical chemistry, physics, and engineering at UCR and other institutions in the U.S. and abroad. Anh will graduate this June, and she  hopes to work at a national lab or in the technology industry in the long term.

Anh’s award and its accompanying $4,500 prize were celebrated at a reception of Professor Morton’s life and achievements on June 3. The award was made possible through the generous donations of Professor Morton’s family. His widow, Kathryn, praised Anh’s outstanding accomplishments and “assiduous and dedicated work linking disparate fields and different geographic, linguistic, and cultural regions,” and she was confident that her husband would have been very pleased with her selection.

Professor Thomas Morton (1947-2020) came to UCR in 1981. As a physical organic chemist, he studied the behaviors of gas-phase ions, including ground-breaking studies which revealed the physical description of gaseous ion-neutral complexation. He was an enthusiastic colleague who eagerly sought to develop collaborations at UCR and abroad, including long-standing collaborations in France and the Netherlands. Beyond chemistry, Professor Morton loved art, music, languages, history, and culture. As an undergraduate at Harvard, he majored in Classics and Fine Art, rather than chemistry, and his love of broad learning continued throughout his life. The Morton Memorial award was established to recognize outstanding graduate student researchers of the highest academic standards who actively collaborate with scholars of other points of view, cultures, ethnicities, nationalities, or field of study.


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