Momentum Newsletter Banner
Spring 2009
NSM Professor One of Only Three at UH to Achieve Prestigious AAAS Status
By Lisa Merkl
University Communication

B. Montgomery "Monte" Pettitt, the Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen Professor of Chemistry and Professor of Physics, Computer Science, Biology and Biochemistry at the University of Houston, has been awarded the distinction of Fellow from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Of the 486 Fellows for 2008, Pettitt was among Texas’ 16 honorees, six of whom were from Houston institutions. He is one of only three researchers in UH’s history to hold this distinction. Part of a tradition dating back to 1874, AAAS members are awarded this appointment by their peers for their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications.

"Being named an AAAS Fellow is among the top honors that a scientist can receive, and such awards are a factor considered in determining the ranking of a research university," said John Bear, dean of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. "This achievement will no doubt put Monte in a position to be considered for subsequent distinguished awards, such as those bestowed by the Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences."

As part of the section on chemistry, Pettitt was elected as an AAAS Fellow for distinguished contributions to computational and theoretical chemistry, particularly for discoveries concerning the thermodynamics of aqueous solutions and the properties of biopolymers.

In conducting his research, he analyzes the relationships between energy and structures of biomolecules in water, as well as looks into properties found in other molecules produced by living organisms. This helps him to come up with principles for designing new biosensors and new therapeutics.

"My research ranges from modeling the behavior of liquids to elucidating the nature of biomolecules tethered to high-tech chip sensors," Pettitt said. "Using biological molecules tethered to chips creates technology for medical diagnosis, drug discovery and even computing."

Pettitt earned his B.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Houston, was a postdoctoral fellow at The University of Texas at Austin and an NIH fellow at Harvard University. He joined the UH faculty in 1985 and is currently the associate dean of research for the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.

"This recognition helps put the Tier One aspirations of UH into focus for the community," Pettitt said. "I think we have several faculty deserving of this honor. By my estimation, UH is Tier One, we just need to demonstrate it."
In This Issue