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Theodore L.Brown is Professor Emeritus of Chemistry at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and Founding Director Emeritus of the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Institute. He graduated with a B.S. degree in Chemistry from the Illinois Institute of Technology in 1950, served three years on active duty in the U. S. Navy, then received his Ph.D. in Chemistry from Michigan State University in 1956. He has been a faculty member in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Illinois,Urbana-Champaign since 1956 (he became Emeritus Professor in January 1994). During 1980-1986 he served as Vice Chancellor for Research and Dean of the Graduate College. In 1987 he became the founding director of the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Institute, and served in that role through 1993. The Beckman Institute at Illinois is among the largest and most broadly-based interdisciplinary research institutions in the world. Brown also served as interim Vice-chancellor for Academic Affairs during 1993.
Among many board and committee activities, he was President of the Association of Graduate Schools of the AAU universities during 1985-86. He was a member of the National Academies Government-University-Industry Research Roundtable during 1989-1994. During 2003-2005 he co-chaired a National Academies committee under the auspices of the Committee on Science, Engineering and Public Policy, on Facilitating Interdisciplinary Research. He was a member of the Board of Directors of the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation during 1994-2008.
Brown’s current interests include the cognitive, philosophical and social aspects of science. In 2003 he authored Making Truth: Metaphor in Science, which explores the essential roles of metaphorical reasoning in science. He was a subject editor for chemistry of the New Scribner’s Dictionary of Scientific Biography. He has written a book on the authority and moral authority of science in society, Imperfect Oracle: The Authority and Moral Authority of Science, which appeared in 2009. A second book, Crossing Divides: The Origins of the Beckman Institute at Illinois, also appeared in 2009.
Along with H. E. LeMay, Jr he is founding author of the best-selling general chemistry text, Chemistry: The Central Science, now in its 14th edition. He continues as part of the writing team for the book with fellow authors, H. E. LeMay, Jr, Bruce E. Bursten, Catherine J. Murphy and Patrick M. Woodward.
Among his honors and awards: Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science (1987); Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1994); American Chemical Society Awards: for Research in Inorganic Chemistry (1972); for Distinguished Service in the Advancement of Inorganic Chemistry (1993); the Harry and Carol Mosher Award of the Santa Clara Valley section of the American Chemical Society (2008). He was an Alfred P. Sloan Fellow (1958-62) and a Guggenheim Fellow (1979-80).