Howard E. Simmons, a physical organic chemist and retired vice president of the central research and development department at DuPont in Wilmington, Del., is the 1994 recipient of the American Chemical Society's (ACS) Priestley Medal, the United States' highest award in chemistry.

Simmons, 64, will receive the medal at the national ACS meeting in San Diego this month. Being presented with the award caught Simmons by surprise. "The Priestley Medal hasn't been given very often to industrial people. I wasn't anticipating it," he says.

In the award announcement, ACS explains that Simmons "is being recognized for his many years of distinguished service to chemical science, industry, and society."

Simmons is primarily known for two areas of research. "The piece of work that I'm best known for is the Simmons-Smith reaction," he says. This synthetic reaction, which bears Simmons's name as well as that of Ronald Smith, a research chemist at...

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