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News Release

For immediate use

Feb. 10, 2005 -- No. 54

Thorp to lead chemistry department,
become Kenan professor in July

CHAPEL HILL -- Dr. Holden Thorp, who has served as director of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hillís Morehead Planetarium and Science Center since 2001, has been named chairman of the department of chemistry.

He also will be named Kenan professor, an endowed faculty position awarded to outstanding scholars and teachers. Both appointments are effective July 1. The department of chemistry is part of the College of Arts and Sciences.

"This is a great opportunity for the College of Arts and Sciences, the university and the Morehead Center," said Dr. Robert Shelton, provost and executive vice chancellor at UNC. "Our nationally ranked department of chemistry will gain an outstanding scholar and teacher with Holden Thorp at the helm. Holdenís vision and expertise have led the Morehead to new heights as an innovator in science education.

"His promotion gives the Morehead Center an opportunity to continue moving forward by seeking a national leader in science outreach and interactive educational programs."

Thorp attended UNC, receiving his bachelor of science degree, with highest honors, in chemistry in 1986. He went on to receive his doctorate from the California Institute of Technology in 1989. He came to UNC in 1993 as assistant professor of chemistry and is now professor of chemistry.

A native of Fayetteville, Thorp has earned recognition as a professor and as a researcher, including the Tanner Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, the David and Lucile Packard Fellowship in Science and Engineering, and the Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship.

Fortune Small Business named Thorp one of its "Top Innovators of 2001" for his development of electronic DNA chips that have received nine patents and are currently in commercial production.

As director of the Morehead Center, Thorp expanded the original emphasis of the planetarium to encompass science education in all of the disciplines offered by the university. He initiated partnerships involving Nobel Prize-winner Dr. James Watson and Pulitzer Prize-winner Dr. Edward O. Wilson to develop films that explore genetic research and biodiversity. He also established momentum for the Morehead Centerís first major renovation since its construction in 1947.

Thorp replaces Dr. James W. Jorgenson, who ends his five-year term as chairman of the department of chemistry on June 30. Jorgenson, W.R. Kenan Jr. professor, will continue to teach and conduct research in chemistry.

Robert Gotwals, who has served as the Morehead Centerís associate director and as director of science initiatives, will also leave the Morehead Center to return to the Shodor Educational Foundation, a nonprofit institution in Durham providing informal science education in computational science.

Jeff Hill, the Morehead Centerís marketing and business ventures director, will be acting director of the Morehead Center during the search for a new director.

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