Esteemed chemistry professor dies | MSU Today

James (Jim) L. Dye, emeritus professor of chemistry at MSU for over 60 years, died on October 8. He was 94 years old and is survived by Angie, his wife of 73 years.

Dye was an emeritus faculty member of MSU at the College of Natural Sciences. He began teaching at MSU in 1953. Although he retired in 1994, he continued to conduct research and mentor undergraduate students.

He was one of the most influential and successful researchers and teachers at MSU. A pioneer in chemistry, he is best known for his work on alkali metals, which has earned him recognition as the “discoverer of alkalids and electrides”. He co-founded SiGNa Chemistry, which received the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award in 2008.

“Professor Dye has changed the way chemists look at the periodic table of elements,” said Timothy Warren, Barnett Rosenberg professor of chemistry and chair of the chemistry department at MSU. “Normally associated with a positive charge, Dr. Dye has revolutionized our understanding of alkali metals such as sodium by showing that they can also have a negative charge. He has translated his remarkable understanding of nature into the wider society through his business SiGNa which transforms these useful but reactive metals into safe and easy to use materials. Despite his paradigm-shifting successes as a researcher, Dr Dye emerged as an “ordinary” person who was an amazing role model, mentor and friend to many inside and outside MSU.

Dye’s scientific achievements led to his election to the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has received two Guggenheim Fellowships, a Fulbright Fellowship, and the American Chemical Society National Award in Inorganic Chemistry.

Dye conducted his sabbatical research with Nobel Laureates Manfred Eigen, Jean-Marie Lehn and others. He has trained countless students and post-doctoral researchers during his six decades at MSU.

The James L. Dye Chair in Materials Chemistry was established in 2014 to honor and help new generations of chemists carry on Dye’s legacy.

“Dr. Jim Dye was a well-known and respected scholar, teacher and friend in the College of Natural Sciences for over 60 years,” said Phil Duxbury, Dean of the College of Natural Sciences. “His exceptional scholarship, his integrity and his generosity to students and colleagues will long be remembered and honored; and his extraordinary scientific discoveries in chemistry and materials innovation will impact science for generations to come. It has been a remarkable honor from the to have been a member of our community for so many years, he will be sorely missed.

A memorial was held in Longmont, Colorado on October 24. Due to COVID, a memorial in East Lansing, Michigan will be held at a later date.

Donations can be made to the “James L. Dye Chair in Materials ChemistryIn honor of him and his dedication to education at MSU.


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