Martin, James C. | University of Illinois Archives

Name: Martin, James C.

Historical Note:

James ("J. C.") Cullen Martin (1928-1999) was instructor (1956-59); assistant professor (1959-62); associate professor (1962-65); professor of chemistry (1965-85); and head of the Division of Organic Chemistry (1967-68) at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). He was a leading researcher in the field of physical organic chemistry and main group element chemistry, widely known as the coinventor of the Dess-Martin periodinane.

Martin was born in Dover, Tennessee, on January 14, 1928. He served in the US Army (1946-50) and attended Vanderbilt University, where he earned a bachelor's degree (1951) and a master's degree (1952). He undertook doctoral studies at Harvard University with Paul Bartlett, earning a PhD in 1956. Martin's diverse areas of research included free-radical initiators, the synthesis of new compounds, and bonding main group elements. In 1983, he and doctoral student Daniel Benjamin Dess invented the Dess-Martin periodinane, a chemical reagent used for the oxidation of alcohols. He also created Martin's sulfurane, an organosulfur compound and reagent in organic synthesis. Martin was the recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship (1966) and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Research Prize. He served as chair of the Organic Division of the American Chemical Society in 1983.

Martin was married to occupational therapist June E. Martin, and together they had five children. He died on April 20, 1999.


Wikipedia, s.v. "James Cullen Martin," accessed May 14, 2020,

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