February 26, 2019

Dear Members of our Campus Community,

I am deeply saddened to share with you the news that Research Professor Thomas C. Bruice passed away on February 15, with his beloved wife of 48 years, our colleague Dr. Paula Bruice, at his side. 

After obtaining his Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry at USC, Dr. Bruice did a post-doctoral fellowship at UCLA and went on to serve on the faculties of Yale University School of Medicine, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and Cornell University. He came to UC Santa Barbara in 1964, bringing with him a number of graduate students and post-doctoral fellows. As a Professor of Chemistry from 1964 to 1995, and a Research Professor in Chemistry and Biochemistry from 1995 to the present, he was a world-renowned scientist and leader in helping to build the department and advance the stature of our university. 

Dr. Bruice was a pioneer in the field of bioorganic chemistry. Together with Dr. Stephen Benkovic, he co-authored the classic two-volume text Bioorganic Mechanisms (1966), the first authoritative and critical compendium of this subject. Brilliant, creative, and extraordinarily productive, Professor Bruice made fundamental contributions to nucleoside material chemistry, molecular dynamic simulations, and the use of computational chemistry in the study of enzyme mechanisms, among other areas. His research, discoveries, and insights led to a deeper understanding of the chemical basis of biological processes.

Dr. Bruice received numerous prestigious honors throughout his career, including the National Academy of Sciences Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Chemical Sciences, the Linus Pauling Medal, the Tolman Medal, the Repligen Medal for the Chemistry of Biological Processes, the Alfred Bader Medal for Bioorganic Chemistry, and the James Flack Norris Award in Physical Organic Chemistry. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1974 and was also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a Guggenheim Fellow. He was our campus’s Faculty Research Lecturer in 1970. With more than 600 publications to his name, he was consistently ranked as one of the most highly cited chemists in the world.

When not in the laboratory, the classroom, or with his family, Professor Bruicecould often be found at one of our local surf breaks, where he surfed well into his seventies. He was a deeply admired colleague and an inspiring teacher and mentor whose legacy will be carried forward by the lasting influence of his work, as well as his impact on countless students and colleagues all over the world. 

Our hearts go out to Paula, to their children and grandchildren, and to the rest of their family members, colleagues, and many friends. Tom will be dearly missed by us all. A celebration of his life is being planned for a later date. On March 1, our campus flag will be lowered to half-staff in honor and memory of Professor Bruice.


Henry T. Yang