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College of Natural Sciences

Distinguished Emeriti

2017–2018: David Ball

Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry

Dave received his B.S. in Chemistry from UC Berkeley in 1966 and his Ph.D. in Chemistry from UC Santa Barbara in 1970. He moved on to a postdoctoral fellowship at Boston University followed by a few teaching opportunities in Chile and in California before settling in as a chemistry faculty member at CSU Chico in 1974. Dave entered the Faculty Early Retirement Program (FERP) in 2010 and continued to teach in the department until May 2018. Throughout his illustrious career at CSU Chico, Dave was a passionate, student-centered teacher, researcher, and faculty advisor.

Dave was responsible for reigniting club activity for the Student Affiliates of the American Chemical Society (SAACS) shortly after his arrival on campus and was a fixture as the faculty advisor for many decades. Over the years, the club has served chemistry students with activities, tutoring and many other events. Dave instituted a High School Chemistry Day each spring during which local high school students - upwards of one hundred each year - visit campus to meet university chemistry majors, explore topics in chemistry, eat lunch and participate in a Magic Show.

Dave was always one the most active and successful undergraduate research advisors on campus and received the Professional Achievement Honors in 2005 in recognition of decades of success in teaching and research. Then in 2009 Dave was the recipient of the very first Outstanding Research Mentor award on campus. This award recognized his role mentoring hundreds of undergraduate students in research in chemistry. More that 55 of those have now gone on to receive Ph.D.s in chemistry. A few of those have also done post-doctoral fellowships with Nobel Laureates. These former students are now leaders in industry and academia. Dave has authored 21 peer-reviewed articles, including five since ending his FERP in 2015 and has taken over 60 students to scientific meetings to present posters on their research. Dave's passion for research and dissemination of results led him to establish the College of Natural Sciences Poster Session held towards the end of the spring semester every year since 2004. Each year over one hundred student researchers and faculty mentors show case their work with scientific posters displayed and judged on campus. In 2007, under Dave’s leadership, the department formally established the Chemistry Summer Research Institute (CSRI). A significant donation ($70,000) arranged by one of Dave’s former students seeded a funding model for the institute which has since garnered over $200,000 in donations to support student research. CSRI has become the model for summer research programs for other departments in the College of Natural Sciences and on campus.

Dave was also the principal investigator of an NSF-CCLI grant to acquire a 300 MHz Nuclear Magnetic Resonance spectrometer in 1999. This type of spectrometer is one of the most important instruments for instruction and research in any chemistry department and provided the platform for the complete redesign of the upper division laboratory sequence. Since 1999, thousands of chemistry students have mastered the skills to acquire and analyze data equipping them to move on the next stage of their careers.

In summary, Dave was an amazing member of the faculty of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry for over four decades where he served as an inspiration to generations of young faculty members and thousands of students.