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Starnes to give commencement address at Union College

  • A chemist for commencement
    A chemist for commencement  Bill Starnes, Gottwald Professor of Chemistry Emeritus at William & Mary, will deliver the commencement address at Union College. Starnes is a former student of Union College.  By Steve Salpukas
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William “Bill” Starnes, Gottwald Professor of Chemistry, Emeritus, at William & Mary, will deliver the commencement address at Union College’s 2013 commencement ceremony. 

This year’s commencement will take place on Saturday, May 4, at 10:30 a.m. in Union’s Robsion Arena. Starnes will be presented with a Doctor of Science, honoris causa, while his wife, Virginia’s Poet Laureate Sofia M. Starnes, will also be the recipient of an honorary degree at the ceremony.

Starnes earned his Ph.D. in chemistry from the Georgia Institute of Technology and his Bachelor of Science in chemistry from Virginia Polytechnic Institute (now Virginia Tech). Prior to that, he attended Union College, where he took courses in organic and general chemistry.

Starnes joined the William & Mary faculty in 1989. He has also held faculty positions at Polytechnic University and University of Texas, Austin. He has worked at AT&T Bell Laboratories and Esso Research and Engineering Company as well.

Starnes is considered to be among the world’s leading experts in the chemistry of vinyl plastics. His most recent accomplishment was the invention of the ester thiol technology for the heat stabilization of vinyl plastics. These are non-toxic, and can be used to replace the hazardous heavy metal compounds, which were previously being used to prevent degradation.

Union College is a four-year liberal arts institution in Barbourville, KY, related to the United Methodist Church.