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Albert Bottini


Albert Thomas Bottini

Professor of Chemistry, Emeritus

UC Davis


Albert Thomas Bottini died suddenly at his home in Davis on February 3, 2002 at the age of 69. He was born in San Rafael, CA, on June 13, 1932 to Joseph Natali Bottini and Louise Maestri Bottini.


Al was raised in Petaluma and graduated from Petaluma Senior High School in 1949. He earned his A.A. degree at Santa Rosa Junior College in 1951, and the Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from UC Berkeley in 1954. At Berkeley he was the recipient of several undergraduate scholarships and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He carried out undergraduate research with Professor Donald S. Noyce, and was also employed as a research assistant in the Department of Plant Pathology.


From 1954 to 1957 Al was a National Science Foundation Predoctoral Fellow at the California Institute of Technology. His Ph.D. dissertation research with Professor John D. Roberts involved early applications of nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy in organic chemistry. Their study of the nitrogen inversion frequency of cyclic imines is still frequently cited. He also examined the benzyne mechanism for liquid-phase hydrolysis of chlorobenzene and halotoluenes.


After a year in Switzerland as a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow with Professor Cyril A. Grob at the Organisch-Chemische Institut der Universitat Basel, Al came to UC Davis in 1958 as an instructor in chemistry. He progressed through the ranks, becoming professor of chemistry in 1968. He retired effective January 1, 1993.


Professor Bottini’s early research, supported by the Petroleum Research Fund of the American Chemical Society, the National Cancer Institute of the U.S. Public Health Service and the National Institutes of Health, dealt with studies of base-induced cyclizations and with amines derived from dihalopropenes. He and Professor David Volman were active in obtaining funding for purchase of nuclear magnetic resonance and electron spin resonance spectrometers for the department. Later studies involved base-induced reactions of 1-halocycloalkenes, the chemistry of halomethyl substituted methylenecyclopropanes, the stereochemistry of amine quaternizations, strained pi systems, and bis-allylic diradicals.


One of Al’s early graduate students, Dr. Frederick P. Corson, became vice president and director of research and development at the Dow Chemical Company. Together with his wife, Mary Jane, Dr. Corson has been a major benefactor of the Department of Chemistry and an active volunteer, advocate and supporter of the University.


In about 1980, Al shifted his research interests to a study of phytotoxins in collaboration with Professor D.G. Gilchrist of the Department of Plant Pathology. Then in about 1985 and continuing until his death, he and another of his doctoral students Professor Vasu Dev of the California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, pursued the isolation and structural elucidation of mono, sesqui and diterpenoids from the steam volatile oils and ethanol extracts of a number of medicinal plants collected in the Central Himalayas of India and in California. While on sabbatical leave he developed a great love for the region of India where many of the samples were collected.


Al’s teaching assignments at Davis were in the area of organic chemistry at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. He served the campus as both a member and chair of the Graduate Council, and was for a time the UC Davis representative on the system-wide Coordinating Committee on Graduate Affairs. He was a chairman of the Sacramento Section of the American Chemical Society. In the Department he was an undergraduate advisor, and took special interest in being the departmental representative to the Physical Sciences Library for a number of years. He was always highly organized and meticulous in everything he did. By example, he invested his students and coworkers with value systems, both personal and professional, of the highest order.


Al was a lifetime member of the American Philatelic Association and had a formidable stamp collection. He enjoyed fishing, and for more than 15 years he and Professor David Volman had evenly-matched, daily dart games that ended only when the game room turned into a graduate student study space. He was a devoted husband, father and grandfather, and his caring nature spilled over to many others. His survivors include his widow Marilyn Jean Green Bottini, whom he married in 1953, and his three sons David of Hawthorn Woods, IL, Philip of Santa Clara, CA, and John of Framingham, MA, and their families including eight grandchildren.


Edwin C. Friedrich

Thomas L. Allen

Charles P. Nash

George S. Zweifel