Neil Garg has been selected as the first professor to hold UCLA’s Kenneth N. Trueblood Endowed Chair in Chemistry and Biochemistry.

The Trueblood chair was established in 2017, funded by a gift from the estate of the late Kenneth and Jeanie Trueblood, with matching funds from the department of chemistry and biochemistry and the office of Miguel García-Garibay, dean of the division of physical sciences in the UCLA College.

“Neil’s passion for organic chemistry is contagious!” García-Garibay said. “He is a world-class researcher, whose many awards and honors include our country’s most important award for outstanding university teaching: the Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teaching, which is given once every two years by Baylor University, and which Neil currently holds. Ken Trueblood was also an exceptional scientist and teacher, Ken was known for his high standards and his sense of humor, as Neil is. I know Ken would be delighted by this wonderful news.”

Trueblood developed computer programs for determining chemical structures. Jeanie Trueblood was an active member of the UCLA community for decades and a supporter of women scientists, women’s issues, and environmental and anti-war causes, said Catherine Clarke, chair of the chemistry and biochemistry department.

Garg, who created interactive online tutorials (called BACON) that combine real-life examples of organic chemistry, human health and popular culture, has been developing an educational tool, with students, for visualizing and manipulating chemical structures on smartphones: Garg also develops new chemical transformations that enable the synthesis of important organic molecules.

Garg and his family live in a campus residence hall as part of UCLA’s faculty-in-residence program.

“Kenneth Trueblood was known as a remarkable teacher, scientist and all-around human being,” Garg said. “It is humbling and a tremendous honor to be the inaugural holder of the Trueblood Endowed Chair. I will do my best to live up to the Trueblood legacy.”