Janet G. Osteryoung greatly contributed to the development of electroanalytical chemistry, particularly, she developed Square Wave Voltammetry (SWV).
Janet Osteryoung was born in Pennsylvania and attended public schools in Pennsylvania and in Florida. She received her undergraduate education at Swarthmore College (B.A. 1961), where she was a Merit Scholar and Dolfinger-MacMahon Summer Fellow, and her graduate education under the direction of Prof. Fred C. Anson at California Institute of Technology (Ph.D. 1967), where she was a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellow and a Woodrow Wilson Fellow. Her graduate research explored the role of ligand bridging in charge transfer reactions at electrodes.
Janet Osteryoung began her academic career in 1967 as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry at Montana State University. She soon moved to Colorado State University, where she remained for a decade, moving up through the ranks in the Department of Civil Engineering and Microbiology. From 1977 to 1978 she served as the Program Director for Chemical Analysis at the National Science Foundation, a position that would presage her current involvement with that organization.
In 1979 she moved to the Department of Chemistry at the State University of New York at Buffalo as an Associate Professor, and was promoted to Full Professor in 1982. In 1992, she moved to the Chemistry Department at North Carolina State University as Head. She is currently Director of the Chemistry Division at the National Science Foundation, where she has served since 1994.
Osteryoung’s research interests range from electroanalytical chemistry to physical studies of polyelectrolyte systems. She is perhaps best known for her many contributions to the theory and practice of pulse and square wave voltammetry, but she has made important contributions in a number of related areas. For example, she is a recognized expert in the determination of low levels of pesticides, carcinogens and pharmaceuticalsin a variety of media.
Particularly important are her contributions to the development of sound mathematical theory to optimize the fitting of theory to experimental electrochemical data, and to the use of various pulse voltammetric techniques in the study of electrochemical mechanisms. More recently, she has contributed significantly to the understanding of electrostatics in polyelectrolyte systems through the application of electrochemical and NMR techniques and theory. She has organized many symposia, written over 200 publications and given more than 350 presentations. She also co-authored a general chemistry text.
Dr. Osteryoung has received many honors, including National Science Foundation, Guggenheim and Fulbright Fellowships, the ANACHEM Award of the Association of Analytical Chemists, and she was the 1998 recipient of the Pittsburgh Analytical Chemistry Award from the SACP (Society for Analytical Chemists of Pittsburgh).
In 1987 she was awarded the Garvin Medal of the American Chemical Society, and in 1996 she won the ACS Division of Analytical Chemistry Award in Electrochemistry. She has served on several editorial boards, as Associate Editor of Electrochimica Acta, and as Chair of the ACS Division of Analytical Chemistry. She is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a Founding Member of the Society of Electroanalytical Chemistry, and served as President of that Society in 1986.