Emeritus and Retired Faculty and Staff Association

Dave Ball, PhD


Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Dave Ball’s passion for chemistry may only be matched by his determination to share it with students. No Chico State chemistry professor has done more to nurture interest in the major and send graduates off to prestigious careers in the field.

Early in his 44-year tenure, Ball revitalized the chemistry club, and initiated High School Chemistry Day where area students are invited to campus to meet chemistry majors and participate in a chemistry magic show. The club won several national chapter awards under his tutelage. To lead students in cutting-edge undergraduate research, Ball wrote a grant that enabled the department to obtain a $200,000 nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer in 1999, which has subsequently been used by hundreds of chemistry majors. To showcase student's fine work in the sciences, Ball established the College of Natural Sciences Poster Session in 2004.

To give students summer research opportunities, Ball contacted a former student of his who had become a chemical firm executive, and a $50,000 donation was obtained; the first of several industry gifts. The NMR and external funding led to the founding of the very successful Chemistry Summer Research Institute. To continue campus ties with chemistry majors, Ball created the Chemistry Alumni Reunion Symposium, the most recent of which was themed to honor Ball’s contributions.

Over the years, Ball has authored 21 peer-reviewed articles, including five since his retirement in 2015. In recognition of his long-standing research, Ball was awarded Professional Achievement Honors by the University in 2005. When the new Outstanding Research Mentor award was established in 2009, Ball was its first recipient. He has taken more than 50 students to scientific meetings to present posters on their research in his lab, and more than 55 of his former students have gone on to receive PhDs in chemistry.

“Personally, my career would never have been, had it not been for Dave,” said Craig Lindsley, director of Medicinal Chemistry at Vanderbilt University and a 2014 Distinguished Alumnus. “Everything I have accomplished in science is due to Dave.”

In retirement, Ball continues to mentor students, remains active in the laboratory, and directs students in undergraduate research. Ball did his undergraduate work at University of California, Berkeley and earned his PhD in Chemistry at UC Santa Barbara.

Portrait of Dave Ball, PhD