Yale chemist, Mark A. Johnson, honored by American Physical Society


Mark Johnson
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New Haven, Conn. -- Mark A. Johnson, professor of physical chemistry at Yale has been awarded the 2006 Earle K. Plyler Prize for Molecular Spectroscopy sponsored by the George E. Crouch Foundation of the American Physical Society for his work on the structure of water.

The Prize, which will be awarded at the APS March 2006 meeting in Baltimore, MD, recognizes and encourages notable contributions to the field of molecular spectroscopy. Johnson will present a talk on his work and receive a certificate along with an honorarium.

Mark Johnson, holding a model of water molecules, with graduate students Eric Diken, Joseph Roscioli and Joseph Bopp
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The citation reads: "For the applications of spectroscopic methods towards the understanding of solvation on the microscopic scale, especially the solvation of protons and hydroxide anions by water."

While water is considered the fluid of life, it has not always been clear why that is the case. Studies published by Johnson and his colleagues this past year focused on how protons and electrons dissolve in or are held by water molecules. The work was cited among the top 10 areas of discovery in 2004 by the journal Science.

Johnson began studying water on the small scale, with as few as 10 molecules frozen in a tiny crystal just big enough to see how water works from the bottom up. His group in now working on how acids dissociate upon contact with water.

Johnson joined Yale faculty 1985 after receiving his B.S. from the University of California, Berkeley; his Ph.D. from Stanford University; and his Post-doctoral training at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He has been previously acknowledged as a NSF-Presidential Young Investigator in 1987; a Camille and Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar 1990; and a Fellow of the American Physical Society in 2000.

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