In Memoriam

Boyd Professor Emeritus Sean P. McGlynn

1931 – 2024

LSU Mourns the Passing of Boyd Professor Emeritus Sean P. McGlynn

May 10, 2024

It is with sadness that we share the news of the passing of Emeritus Boyd Professor Sean P. McGlynn. He led a remarkable academic journey and left a lasting impact on LSU and the broader academic community. His legacy will endure, serving as an inspiration and influence for future generations. Our heartfelt condolences go out to his family, friends, and those touched by his wisdom and kindness.


Prof Sean McGlynn

Boyd Professor Emeritus Sean McGlynn

Born in Dungloe, Ireland, Sean P. McGlynn embarked on a distinguished academic journey, earning his Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and Master of Science in Biochemistry from the National University of Ireland in 1951 and 1952, followed by a doctorate degree in chemistry from Florida State University in 1956. His tenure at LSU began in 1957 when he joined as an assistant professor of chemistry, marking the onset of his illustrious career.

McGlynn's research focused on the investigation of molecular and atomic electronic structure and dynamics, the development of new spectroscopic techniques, such as magnetic circular dichroism, electron scattering, and spectroscopy of giant atoms and molecules, and their applications in many different areas of chemistry, biochemistry, and biophysics, including radiation biology and environmental chemistry.  

As an internationally renowned researcher and author with 399 publications, he became a sought-after speaker in diverse fields, including chemistry, physics, and radiation biology. In recognition of his scholarly achievements, McGlynn was appointed Boyd Professor, the highest academic rank at LSU, in 1967.

Beyond his scholarly pursuits, McGlynn made significant contributions to administration, serving as Dean of the Graduate School from 1981-82. He was also named Vice Chancellor for Research in 1981, during which time he spearheaded initiatives that led to substantial advancements in research productivity and funding across STEM disciplines at LSU. 

McGlynn was instrumental in securing $25 million in federal funding for the synchrotron facility (CAMD) and establishing the Center for Energy Studies. He also co-authored the "Quality Thrust Initiative," which laid the foundation for research clusters across campus, fostering collaboration in critical areas such as biotechnology, coastal and environmental sciences, physical sciences, and computer and information sciences. He also led the development of the proposal for the endowed chairs as part of the 8g trust fund and the creation of the Boyd Professor Research Fund. 

His visionary leadership and efforts resulted in LSU achieving the Carnegie Foundation’s Research I University ranking, placing it among the top 70 institutions in the nation. Although he retired in 1998, McGlynn continued his research, writing, and service within the chemistry department. In 2010, he was inducted into the College of Science Hall of Distinction

Boyd Professor Emeritus Sean McGlynn played a pivotal role in elevating LSU's research status, securing significant funding, and establishing key initiatives. His legacy of excellence and unwavering commitment will continue to inspire and guide generations to come.



Remembering Boyd Professor Emeritus Sean McGlynn

"Sean McGlynn’s passing is a sad day not only for LSU science, but for all of LSU. Sean was an outstanding scientist and administrator. He was among the first Boyd Professors. I knew LSU Chemistry before I came to LSU as a result of his outstanding scientific reputation. He was a major force that encouraged me to join the LSU chemistry department and also encouraged me in many other ways while I was at LSU. He is a dear friend who will be sadly missed.”

Isiah Warner, LSU Boyd Professor Emeritus, Philip W. West Professor of Analytical and Environmental Chemistry, Emeritus 

“Sean McGlynn ran a large, excellent group in physical chemistry. He had broad interests and knowledge and in the mid-1970s, soon after I joined the physics faculty, we teamed together to apply a technique called multi-channel quantum defect theory to ultraviolet spectra he had of Rydberg series in molecules such as HI and CH_3I which are analogs of the Xe atom. I had been involved in the development of that theory in atoms but molecular species posed other questions as we extended the analysis to the Rydberg series in those iodides as well as other molecules such as ethylene and acetone. I still hold memories of our discussions on the physics of these multi-electron species.”

A. Ravi P. Rau, LSU Alumni Professor of Physics

"Sean McGlynn was a great mentor and colleague. His legacy continues in many areas of science and technology."

Kresimir Rupnik, Distinguished Instructor, LSU Chemistry

Dr. McGlynn was a great scientist and a great professor. I was lucky to have him as my major professor during my graduate studies at LSU and am deeply saddened by the loss. Dr. McGlynn not only gave me professional guidance in research and experiments, but also corrected the English grammar and vocabulary errors in my dissertation (English is not my native language). For an international student like me he was not only a professor, but also a life mentor, a guide to American culture, and a role model. He provided me with research assistantship in my last two years of graduate study. He invited me to his birthday parties and family gatherings many times. It made me feel the warmth of family in a foreign country. From him I learned not only chemistry, but also the kindness, humor, and honesty of a great American. Dear Dr. McGlynn, we will remember you and miss you.

Xuan Yao, LSU Chemistry Alum (PhD 1999)