New fellowship honors Sheeran

The University is offering a new fellowship, the Eric F. Ross Undergraduate Research Fellowship, dedicated to research in chemistry, according to John Sowa, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry.

According to a press release by the University, the fellowship is in honor of Dr. Eric F. Ross, founder of the Alpha Chemicals and Plastics Company in Newark. The company focuses on the development of PVC products used in medical devices.

Ross passed away Sept. 8, 2010, in Zurich, Switzerland, according to the Palm Beach Daily News. He was 91.

“We felt that naming it after him would be an appropriate tribute to his memory,” Sowa said. “In addition, we wanted to find a way to make his name known to chemistry students as a means to highlight his outstanding contributions to the field of polymer chemistry.”

Although the fellowship is named for Ross, it was established in honor of Msgr. Robert Sheeran’s 15-year presidency. According to Sowa, Msgr. Sheeran and Ross were friends.

“He [Dr. Ross] wanted to find a way to pay lasting tribute to Msgr. Sheeran in a way that brings attention to Msgr. Sheeran’s great service to the University,” Sowa said.

According to Sowa, Ross was an innovative, generous man.

“His first product was to convert waste vinyl into a flexible green garden hose, but from this product he built a multi-million dollar industry,” Sowa said. “He was a perfect example of someone with a good imagination and a good heart who did great things.”

In addition to his work with PVC products, Ross was a philanthropist. He donated over a million dollars to Seton Hall for the purpose of establishing the Cooperman-Ross Endowed Chair in Jewish-Christian Studies, according to a separate press release.

The fellowship will be awarded to “an outstanding student majoring in chemistry who has demonstrated financial need and has shown great promise to excel in research in the field of chemistry,” according to the press release. The fellowship will provide a $4,000 salary and $500 for expenses associated with the research project.

According to the release, eligible students must be full-time sophomores, juniors or seniors “majoring in CHEM, CHAC, CHME, or CHBI”. They must have a minimum 3.00 GPA and a faculty mentor.

When applying, students should submit a proposal, statement of GPA and financial need, a statement of research availability at the University and a letter of recommendation. According to the press release, applications should be submitted to Professor Stephen Kelty by Jan. 31, 2011.

Msgr. Sheeran did not return any requests for comment.

Jessica Card can be reached at

Author: Staff Writer

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