About the Society


The aims and purposes of the Society are summarized in its constitution – the promotion of high scholarship and original investigation in all branches of pure and applied chemistry. The founders envisioned a society dedicated to these objectives which would serve the field of chemistry in much the same manner as Phi Beta Kappa does the humanities; Sigma Xi, scientific research; and Tau Beta Pi, engineering. Throughout its history, Phi Lambda Upsilon has been consistently devoted to its objectives as an Honor Society.

The national constitution can be viewed here.

The national by-laws can be viewed here.


Phi Lambda Upsilon was founded as an honorary chemical society in March 1899, at the University of Illinois. This was the first honor society dedicated to a single scientific discipline. A survey of our history reveals three distinct periods. Founding, growth and entrenchment of Alpha Chapter at the University of Illinois comprise the first period. The second period began in 1906 when Beta Chapter was established at the University of Wisconsin. Five more chapters were chartered prior to 29 June 1911, the date of the convention at Indianapolis at which the national society was organized and the second period reached its culmination. From 1911 to date, the Society has effected a gradual rise in the standards for membership. This period has also been characterized by the development of programs of activity within the chapters consistent with the honorary character of the Society. In the span of ninety-five years, Phi Lambda Upsilon has grown into an organization comprising sixty-seven chapters and more than 55,000 members.


Members are elected by the Chapters or At-Large on the basis of their academic achievement and promise. Membership includes exceptional students of pure and applied chemistry selected from the junior, senior, or graduate classes, and also from well qualified members of faculties, staffs, as well as from selected post-doctoral students engaged in chemical endeavors in affiliation with qualified institutions of higher learning. Information on qualifications for membership in the Society is available here, from any local chapter, or may be obtained by writing to the National Vice President.

At-Large membership

For At-Large Membership Nomination Forms or new chapter formation, please see the At-Large menu or contact Dr.Donald P. Land, PLU VP at dpland@ucdavis.edu. Honorary Membership

Honorary membership is the highest honor the Society may bestow upon an individual. Honorary members are scientists of national or international reputation in a field of chemistry and are chosen by a vote of the chapters. Regular membership in the Society in no way precludes later election to honorary membership. This honor has been bestowed upon only two hundred and ten individuals in the ninety-five year history of the Society. The roll of honorary members includes the names of prominent American and foreign chemists, including virtually all American Nobel Laureates in Chemistry.

The Chapters of Phi Lambda Upsilon

List of current chapters and their location and date of formation

The Phi Lambda Upsilon Fresenius Award

In keeping with its objectives, Phi Lambda Upsilon, in 1965, established the National Fresenius Award to recognize outstanding chemists whose early achievements have an exceptionally high quality and who show great promise for distinguished careers in chemistry. The recipient of each year’s award is selected from a slate of nominees by a select committee of distinguished chemists appointed by the National President for this purpose. The award, consisting of a unique metal plaque and an honorarium, is given to a person under 35 years of age who has made notable contributions to chemical research, education, and/or administration. A mere glance at the list of recipients tells how well the selection committee has succeeded in recognizing excellence and potential for future excellence in chemistry. Remember that each recipient of this award was nominated for it prior to having reached his or her thirty-fifth birthday.


As the Society’s official publication, The Register performs several important functions. Not only does it record for historical interest the activities of the national organization and individual chapters, but it also serves to coordinate our widespread chapters’ efforts to achieve the purposes for which the Society was founded and for which it exists. The Register brings to the entire membership reports of chapter and national activities, the triennial congresses, initiations, meetings, and awards. In addition, the magazine presents articles of a general nature in any area of science relating to chemistry. Alumni and alumnae are urged to maintain active participation in the affairs of the Society through life subscription to The Register. This action is purely voluntary upon the part the individual as there are no alumni dues. Inquiries with respect to subscription, publication, or information contained in The Register should be addressed to the National Editor, Dr. Deborah Bromfield Lee, Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw, GA 30144 dbromfil@kennesaw.edu.

National Administration

Administration of the Society is effected through six national officers, together with the two most recently retired national presidents. The triennial congress, at which each chapter is represented by a delegate, functions as a deliberating and legislative body to determine the policies of the Society. Interim action is by vote of the Administrative Council in which each chapter is represented through its president and councilor. Items of business which directly affect the chapters are decided by ballot within the individual chapters. The National Office for 2009 – 2013 is located at the Department of Chemistry, Elon University, Elon, NC 27244, Dr. Eugene Grimley, National President  grimley@elon.edu.