Skip to content

Heritage of the
Henry Eyring Center for Theoretical Chemistry

by Jack Simons

Henry Eyring standing in front of a chalkboard full of equations

Henry Eyring was one of America’s first and greatest chemists to bring quantum mechanics and theory into chemistry research and education. He pursued research in the three major areas of theoretical chemistry of his time—quantum chemistry, statistical mechanics, and reaction dynamics—and he wrote textbooks in all of these areas, some of which remain popular today. Leaving Princeton to join the University of Utah Chemistry faculty in 1946, Eyring began our history of excellence in theoretical chemistry.

Biography   J Chem Ed Biography   Nat Acad Memoir   Archives

casual headshot of Frank Harris

In 1967, Frank Harris joined HEC, as a joint appointment with our Physics Department, and added prestige to our work in electronic structure theory. 

Tribute Article   Harris Homepage

headshot of Josef Michl

Soon thereafter (1968), Josef Michl joined us and contributed much to theory efforts relating to organic photochemistry.

Autobiography     Tribute Article      Michl Group UC-Boulder

headshot of Jack Simons

In 1971, Jack Simons was appointed to our faculty and pursued electronic structure theory, especially relating to molecular anions and electron-molecule interactions.

Simons Homepage      Autobiography      2005 Festschrift    Telluride School on Theoretical Chemistry

headshot of Randall Shirts   headshot of Anthony D. J. Haymet

During the 1980s, we added Randall Shirts (1982), who pursued theoretical work on reaction dynamics, and Anthony D. J. Haymet (1987) in statistical mechanics

Shirts Homepage

Haymet Biography   Haymet Tribute Article 

headshot of Thanh Truong

In 1992, Thanh Truong joined our faculty and pursued research in reaction dynamics and solvation models.

Truong Homepage

casual headshot of Greg Voth

In 1997, we made a major advance by attracting Greg Voth, who brought a large graduate-student and postdoctoral contingent and who fostered our first major studies of biological molecules. His advances in this area and coarse-graining theory were monumental and produced numerous scientific offspring who now hold distinguished positions worldwide. During Greg’s time at Utah, we began to call ourselves the Henry Eyring Center for Theoretical Chemistry (HEC), and he was the first Director of HEC, a position that Valeria Molinero now holds.

Voth Homepage

headshot of Dmitry Bedrovheadshot of Tamara Bidoneheadshot of Tom Cheathamheadshot of Julio Facelliheadshot of Michael Gruenwaldheadshot of Valeria Molineroheadshot of Jack Simonsheadshot of Ryan Steeleheadshot of Jessica Swansonheadshot of Thanh Truong

Throughout the 2000s and 2010s, HEC substantially broadened its horizons and now includes expertise in a wide variety of subjects within theoretical chemistry with Valeria Molinero (2006; theory of liquids), Ryan Steele (2011; electronic structure theory & spectroscopy), Michael Gruenwald (2014; materials & assembly theory), and Jessica Swanson (2019; biomolecular simulations) residing within the Chemistry Department, along with several other faculty members in other departments.

Current hec members


Last Updated: 5/13/22