Chilton Undergraduate Research Endowment
Dr. William Scott Chilton passed away on Aug. 5, 2004 while on a hiking trip on Mount Adams in Washington State. Dr. Chilton had been a member of the Department of Botany (now Plant Biology) since 1983, where he taught and conducted research in the fields of phytochemistry, secondary metabolism, and the chemistry and ethnobotany of medicinal plants. He taught an immensely popular undergraduate course on medicinal plants, weaving ethnobotany and chemistry in a class that built a following among students of diverse majors. He also taught graduate courses in plant secondary metabolism and phytochemical methods. He served as advisor to numerous graduate and undergraduate students and postdoctoral associates, hosted visiting scientists, and was an invaluable colleague and collaborator for faculty across campus and beyond. His contributions to his students, colleagues, and his science are irreplaceable. Scott Chilton was born and raised in Philadelphia, PA, the son of a chemical engineer and educator. He attended Duke University on a Naval ROTC scholarship, where he majored in chemistry. He graduated summa cum laude from Duke in 1955, where he ranked second in his graduating class. He studied for a year at the University of Tubingen in Germany on a Fulbright Fellowship, followed by three years as a Naval officer. He did his graduate work in organic chemistry at the University of Illinois, conducting research on the structures of neomycin antibiotics, and received his PhD in 1963. He started his academic career in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Washington. After 17 successful years and promotion to the level of Professor, he moved to Washington University in St. Louis, where he served as visiting professor of biology, before joining Department of Botany at NC State. During the 41 years of his professional career, Dr. Chilton taught a diversity of classes and distinguished himself in research on the natural products chemistry of plants, fungi, and plant-associated microbes, the structure of novel amino acids, organic sulfur compounds and other organic compounds, and the chemistry of medicinal plants and ethnobotany uses of plants. He was well known for his pioneering work on metabolites produced by the crown-gall pathogen, Agrobacterium, his studies of mushroom toxins, efforts to improve pest resistance in corn through characterizing and manipulating secondary pathways, the discovery and characterization of novel fungal metabolites and their potential for biocontrol of weeds, chemistry of fungal perylenequinone toxins, and the identity and characterization of medicinal plants. In addition to the courses taught at NC State, he taught courses on organic chemistry, spectroscopy, organic synthesis, and plant metabolism. He was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Sigma Xi, American Society of Plant Biologists, American Society of Pharmacognosy, American Chemical Society and North American Mycological Society.