Rice Professor Mason Tomson elected AAAS fellow

Rice University engineer Mason Tomson has been elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the largest general scientific society in the world and publisher of the journal Science.

Mason Tomson

Mason Tomson

He is one of 391 new fellows announced today by AAAS. This honor is awarded to AAAS members by their peers on the basis of their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications.

Tomson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering, was elevated to this rank for his “research and education on aqueous chemical adsorption, desorption and transport important in environmental chemistry of arsenic, hydrocarbons, and mineral scale prediction and inhibition.”

A member of the Rice faculty since 1977, Tomson specializes in research on the fate and transport of organic and inorganic chemicals in the environment. In the late 1970s, Tomson’s research group was among the first to prove that groundwater could be readily contaminated by organic chemicals from the surface. His group helped develop and demonstrate the concepts of enhanced chemical transport in groundwater and of resistant desorption of chemicals from soils and sediments. These concepts have recently been demonstrated to apply to fullerene and activated carbon nanoparticles.

Tomson is also an expert on the mechanisms of mineral scale formation and control. He has decades of experience in researching the processes involved in scale formation — processes that govern the formation of mineral deposits in household water pipes, industrial cooling towers and even kidney stones. He developed one of the fundamental theories that scientists use to explain how chemicals called scale inhibitors prevent mineral formation. Scale inhibitors are widely used in nearly all arenas of industrial water treatment and in virtually all oil and gas wells in the world.

Tomson is leading an effort to establish a joint program on sustainable environmental development between Rice University and Nankai University in Tianjin, China. He also heads the Brine Chemistry Consortium, an industrial group that focuses on applied research and development on scale and corrosion inhibitors in natural gas wells.

Tomson and the other new AAAS fellows will be listed in the Nov. 25 issue of Science and will be presented with a certificate and pin Feb. 18 during the 2017 AAAS annual meeting in Boston.

Tomson is the 17th Rice faculty member who is currently an AAAS fellow. To see a list of the other Rice fellows, go to https://www.aaas.org/elected-fellows and type “Rice University” in the “search by institution” field.

Founded in 1848, AAAS is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to “advance science and serve society” through initiatives in science policy, international programs, science education and public engagement.

About B.J. Almond

B.J. Almond is senior director of news and media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.