Alumni News

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Alumnus Cornelius “Corny” Steelink, PhD’56 (Geissman), emeritus professor of chemistry at the University of Arizona (UA), died on November 12, 2016.

Steelink was an internationally recognized expert on soil humic acid, and he started the toxicology degree program at the University of Arizona in 1973. 

He was educated in Southern California, beginning with his undergraduate studies at the California Institute of Technology where he received his bachelor’s degree in chemistry in 1944. Steelink received a master’s degree in chemistry from the University of Southern California in 1950, and in 1956 he received a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from UCLA where he conducted research in the laboratory of organic chemist, Prof. Theodore Geissman. Steelink is pictured below right conducting research in 1942.


In 1957, Steelink joined the faculty at the University of Arizona as an Assistant Professor of Chemistry. 

He was a former consultant to the City of Tucson on water quality and pollution chemistry, as well as consultant on air pollution chemistry to the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) and the Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest (ACLPI).

In addition to his many scientific accomplishments, Steelink also helped found the Arizona Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in 1959.

His family is planning a memorial service in Tucson in January.

Read more about Steelink’s life in an article in the Arizona Daily Star.

Photos courtesy of Laurie Steelink.