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Steve Hinnefeld
IU Communications

Last modified: Tuesday, February 26, 2013

IU Bloomington faculty member recognized for outstanding scholarship in history of chemistry

Feb. 26, 2013

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University Bloomington faculty member William R. Newman will receive the 2013 HIST Award, presented by the American Chemical Society for outstanding achievement in the field of the history of chemistry.

Newman is Distinguished Professor and Ruth N. Halls Professor of History and Philosophy of Science in the College of Arts and Sciences. He directs the College's Catapult Center for Digital Humanities and Computational Analysis of Texts.

William Newman

William R. Newman

Print-Quality Photo

The HIST Award, formerly known as the Dexter Award and the Edelstein Award, is presented by the Division of History of Chemistry of the American Chemical Society. It has been awarded annually since 1956. Newman is the first recipient from Indiana University.

Newman's recent research has focused on early modern "chymistry" and late medieval "alchemy," especially as exemplified by Isaac Newton, Robert Boyle, Daniel Sennert and the first famous American scientist, George Starkey. Much of his research has centered on the history of matter-theory, especially atomism, and on the history of early chemical technology.

His "Chymistry of Isaac Newton" project combines a digital edition of the famous scientist's alchemical works, with analytical tools derived from computational linguistics and laboratory replication of Newton's experiments.

Newman has been awarded fellowships, grants and prizes from a variety of foundations, including the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, the Dibner Institute for the History of Science and Technology at MIT, and the National Science Foundation. His recent books include "Atoms and Alchemy: Chymistry and the Experimental Origins of the Scientific Revolution," "Promethean Ambitions: Alchemy and the Quest to Perfect Nature" and (with Lawrence M. Principe) "Alchemy Tried in the Fire: Starkey, Boyle and the Fate of Helmontian Chymistry." Newman also wrote "Gehennical Fire," the first biography of George Starkey, otherwise known as Eirenaeus Philalethes.

The Division of the History of Chemistry in the American Chemical Society seeks to advance knowledge and appreciation of the history of the chemical sciences among chemists, students, historians of science and the broader public.

Newman is scheduled to receive the HIST Award at the fall meeting of the American Chemical Society in September 2013 in Indianapolis. For more information, visit the American Chemical Society website.