MSU alumnus honored on global platform

Contact: Sarah Nicholas

Lester Andrews (Photo submitted)

STARKVILLE, Miss. – A 1963 Mississippi State graduate has been recognized by an international publication for his life’s work in the field of chemistry.

Lester Andrews has been honored with a Festschrift Virtual Special Issue of The Journal of Physical Chemistry A.  The festschrift is a popular European academic tradition in which a noted scholar is celebrated by other specialists in the same field.

Andrews graduated with highest honors from MSU with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering. He received his Ph.D. in physical chemistry from the University of California at Berkeley in 1966.  He has been a chemistry professor at the University of Virginia since the late 1960s, where he has earned emeritus status.

A Starkville native, Andrews spent his childhood playing on campus while his father, MSU agronomist W. Baker Andrews, made profound contributions to agricultural chemistry.  The senior Andrews’ work led to the formation of the Mississippi Chemical Corporation, providing positive economic impact for the state. The Mississippi Historical Society credited him for discovering the use of anhydrous ammonia as a fertilizer to boost yields of grains and cotton from “two to tenfold.”

As a student at MSU, Lester Andrews played first-chair clarinet in the Famous Maroon Band.  His support of the band continues today, combined with additional support toward various academic groups at MSU.

MSU’s chemistry department in 2011 established the Lester Andrews Graduate Research Symposium in honor of Andrews for his support of the department and to recognize his accomplishments as a chemist. 

In 2014, Andrews endowed the annual W. Lester S. Andrews Graduate Research Symposium, previously established by the Department of Chemistry in his honor. He has also been honored by MSU as a Distinguished Engineering Fellow.

Andrews has authored or co-authored more than 800 scientific papers since 1966, and his work has been cited over 18,500 times. His festschrift was included in The Journal of Physical Chemistry A because more than one-third of his papers were published in the journal throughout his career.

Professor and head of MSU’s chemistry department Dennis W. Smith Jr., chemistry professor Edwin A. Lewis and chemistry alumnus David E. Wigley were quoted in the festschrift preface, saying, “It is a privilege to join in the congratulations of Professor W. Lester S. Andrews on the occasion of this Festschrift in his honor, which pays tribute to his significant scientific contributions. Professor Andrews is a cherished alumnus and steadfast supporter of his alma mater.”

On behalf of the Department of Chemistry, Smith, Lewis and Wigley said they “would like to take this opportunity to thank Professor Andrews for his exemplary engagement that undoubtedly stems from a lifelong love of science and a chemical heritage rooted in Starkville.”

Andrews served as the inaugural chair and then a member of the chemistry department’s advisory board at MSU.

MSU’s College of Arts and Sciences includes more than 5,200 students, 300 full-time faculty members, nine doctoral programs and 25 academic majors offered in 14 departments. Complete details about the College of Arts and Sciences may be found at The Department of Chemistry is online at, and the Dave C. Swalm School of Chemical Engineering in MSU’s Bagley College of Engineering is online at

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