UNION, NJ — Kean University Senior Vice President for Research Jeffrey H. Toney has been named a fellow of Sigma Xi, the prestigious Scientific Research Honor Society.
Toney, who is also a visiting professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is one of 15 members selected for the 2021 cohort for “exceptional contributions” to society and scientific enterprise. Members are nominated by leaders of Sigma Xi and are selected on a competitive basis.
Kean President Lamont O. Repollet congratulated Toney, who works to lead and create research programs across Kean University.
“Research has always been a point of pride at Kean University, and we are grateful to Dr. Toney for his dedication to fostering both faculty and student research,” Repollet said. “As Kean continues to develop as a research institution, we are proud of what we have accomplished and look forward to growing our research community further in the years to come.”
Sigma Xi, whose stated purpose is supporting “companions in zealous research,” includes among its members more than 200 Nobel Prize laureates. The network of 500 chapters has 100,000 members globally.
Toney, who joins the second group of fellows, said being selected is a “lifetime honor.” He added that his receiving the recognition will facilitate more collaborations across disciplines.
Toney comes to the honor with a lifetime of experience in research. He began while working as a volunteer at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., while still in high school. “As the first in my family to attend college, my family questioned why I would consider working for free,” he said. “Now they understand.”
He earned his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Virginia and his master’s and doctorate in chemistry from Northwestern University. While at Kean, he was named a visiting professor at MIT in the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy in 2019 and a visiting scholar in the Department of the History of Science at Harvard University in 2020.
His scientific work has been widely cited in scholarly literature, and he has six U.S. patents.
Toney’s work seeks to expand diversity and equity in scientific research.
“My upcoming invited lectures at Harvard this fall will address a new model for engaging STEM students using their culture, language and gender as a lens through which they can better succeed,” he said.
At Kean, he has created research opportunities for students both at the university and elsewhere, including through MIT.
“I always have the best interests of our students in mind,” he said. “I will continue to identify extraordinary opportunities for our students to conduct research within Kean and at the finest institutions across the nation and beyond.”