Tom Morton Graduate Award in Chemistry Endowed Fund


Chemistry Dept D01054


Graduate Student Support

Tom Morton enthusiastically espoused the ideals of a global citizen and scientist, embracing
foreign languages and cultures, expressing concern for the environment, and demonstrating a
passion for collaborative scientific research that cut across disciplines. This award will
recognize students who are engaged in active research of the highest academic standards and
whose work reflects these ideals. We especially welcome applications that bring chemistry
together with other scientific fields, the arts, humanities, social sciences, or foreign languages.
Preference will be given to applicants whose work actively collaborates with scholars of other
points of view, cultures, ethnicities, nationalities, or field of study.

This fellowship honors the exuberantly inquisitive spirit of Tom Morton. Tom taught Organic
Chemistry to UCR students for nearly forty years, but his interest in learning burst beyond the
boundaries of any single discipline. He led energetic, productive forays into various fields of
science, arts, humanities, social sciences, and foreign languages. Tom Morton’s enthusiasm for
learning and for deeply understanding our world overflowed into penetrating discussion and
frequent collaboration with students and other scholars on his home campus and abroad.

Tom Morton knew from childhood that he wanted to be a chemist, and for this reason, he
did not major in Chemistry in college. He majored in Classics and Fine Arts, with a special focus
on the Archaeology and Art History of Ancient Greece. He sustained throughout his life an avid
interest in medieval and contemporary music, anthropology, Morris dancing, European history,
Hollywood movies of the Golden Age and French movies of the 1930s. In the hard sciences,
Tom was fascinated by neuroscience, biology, and physics. Forward thinking about the
environment, Tom developed a “Zero-Effluent” laboratory manual in the early 1970s when upcycling and reduction of waste were practically unknown concepts. He took a Computer
Programming class in 1963, when the field was brand new.

In addition to his fascination with and devotion to science, Tom Morton firmly believed in the
study of foreign languages, sometimes requiring his own graduate students to take French before
they collaborated with a laboratory in France. He himself studied Latin, ancient Greek, French,
and German. He was known for spontaneous and joyful toasts in Latin or Greek. Late in his
career, Tom found a tutor to teach him the Thai alphabet.

Tom toiled long and hard as a researcher. His family remembers him doing experiments that
required him to run to the laboratory, adjust his apparatus, return home to sleep a bit, and then
run back to the laboratory again, for days on end. Other times when he stayed late at the
laboratory, it was not for research, but teaching. He was well-known for his late-night review
sessions and his wish to assist others as they learned. Tom especially encouraged his students to
join him in carrying out research in laboratories in France and Holland. In this way, he enabled
generations of young researchers to try something new.

Tom was fascinated by the universe and by the human presence in it. He was enthusiastic about
"pushing back the frontiers of science". This award, we hope, can encourage new students to
delve into the kind of questions that made Tom Morton laugh with excitement and work with

Fund Purpose: This Fund shall be used to provide tuition support for graduate students who have declared Chemistry as an area of study.

Eff: 12/31/21 - Converted from endowment intent # 6I0134 to a true endowment # 600483.

Criteria and Selection Process
The selection process shall be administered by the CNAS Scholarship Committee annually, and the award shall be used to provide financial support for one or more students who meets the following criteria:
1. A graduate student in Chemistry engaging in active research
2. Good academic standing with the university.
3. Evidence of academic achievement and seriousness of purpose
4. Reflects the ideals of collaboration across divisions, open-mindedness, discovery, etc.
5. Preference will be given to students whose work:
a. transcends boundaries between specific fields of science and/or the social sciences, the arts, and the humanities, including foreign languages
b. Involves active collaboration with other scholars of different cultures and nationalities
c. would be enriched by travel to a foreign country
d. would aid environmental remediation efforts

In years when there is no candidate who meets the criteria, awards will be held until the following year.