Thomas Bell, professor in the College of Science’s Department of Chemistry, is recognized as the 2021 recipient of the University of Nevada, Reno Outstanding Researcher Award. This is an award bestowed annually to a faculty member with a distinguished record in research or creative activities.
Bell has been a professor with the University since 1995, and throughout his career has made many contributions to the organic and medicinal chemistry field—including 114 publications and 14 patents stemming from his research. His work has had global impact, serving as additional evidence of his impressive accomplishments. A Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Bell was named the University’s Foundation Established Innovator in 2018.
In her nomination of Bell, Ana de Bettencourt-Dias, spoke highly of Bell, emphasizing his impact throughout his “long and distinguished career.”
“[Bell] has achieved international recognition for his work as evidenced by the large number of high impact publications, invitations to speak at national and international conferences, and rewards of copious funding. He is one of UNR’s most accomplished researchers and he is fully deserving of the Outstanding Researcher of the Year award,” she wrote.
Katherine McCall, dean of the College of Science, also expressed her praise and support for Bell. “Professor Bell’s research stature and accomplishments are well known in the College of Science. His selection as the 2021 UNR Outstanding Researcher is a fitting acknowledgement of his impact on the broader research community.”
Bell shared what has inspired his scientific endeavors, as well as insights about his current and future research efforts.
What inspired you to pursue this research?
From the time I was a child, I have read science and science fiction avidly. I took mechanical devices apart and put them back together to understand how they work. I admired great inventors, like da Vinci, Tesla, Edison, and Bell (no relation!) and realized that I needed to learn a lot to become anything like them. Chemistry was my main passion and throughout my research career I have focused on fundamental research topics having potential practical applications.
What does this award mean to you and for your work?
This award recognizes the importance of the work done by my students and collaborators over my research career of almost 40 years. I have the fun job of coming up with ideas and they do the hard work to turn them into scientific discoveries.
What impact on society do you hope to achieve through your work?
My focus now is on developing new drugs for treating many diseases and disorders. We are developing a new paradigm for designing drugs, which I hope will create a small revolution in medicine.
What future plans do you have for your scholarly work/research?
I plan to continue my work to validate new methods for drug design as long as I am physically and mentally able to do so. Subsequently, other researchers will have to carry the torch, and I am helping students acquire the skills and hopefully inspiring their imaginations so they can do that.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I want to thank my skilled and dedicated coworkers, past and present, for all their hard work, my colleagues for their intellectual contributions and for supporting a productive work environment, and the University and funding agencies for paying me to enjoy my playful hobby, which is scientific research!