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William Newton honored with emeritus status


BLACKSBURG, Va., Oct. 14, 2010 – William Newton, professor of biochemistry in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech, has been conferred the “professor emeritus” title by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors.

The title of emeritus may be conferred on retired professors and associate professors, administrative officers, librarians, and exceptional staff members who are specially recommended to the board of visitors by Virginia Tech President Charles W. Steger. Nominated individuals who are approved by the board of visitors receive an emeritus certificate from the university.

A member of the Virginia Tech community since 1990, Newton was an instructor of BCHM 5124, “Biochemistry for the Life Sciences,” where he displayed sensitivity and patience while introducing hundreds of Virginia Tech graduate students from the biological and agricultural sciences to the complexities of biochemistry.

In the laboratory, he was instrumental in dissecting the complex molecular mechanisms of nitrogenase—an enzyme whose unique ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen renders it essential for all life. He published numerous peer-reviewed research papers, scholarly reviews, and a comprehensive multivolume encyclopedia on nitrogenase and the planetary nitrogen cycle. He initiated and organized an extensive series of international conferences on nitrogen fixation.

Newton was founding director of the Fralin Center for Biotechnology, which developed into one of Virginia Tech’s signature centers for molecular research.

Newton received his bachelor’s degree from Nottingham University (UK), a master’s degree from the Royal Institute of Chemistry, London University, and a Ph.D. from London University.

Nationally ranked among the top research institutions of its kind, Virginia Tech’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences focuses on the science and business of living systems through learning, discovery, and engagement. The college’s comprehensive curriculum gives more than 3,100 students in a dozen academic departments a balanced education that ranges from food and fiber production to economics to human health. Students learn from the world’s leading agricultural scientists, who bring the latest science and technology into the classroom.