- Fulbright Award (1985)
- National Academies (1985)
- American Association for the Advancement of Science
Vernon “Jack” Shiner Jr. was born in Laredo, Texas in 1925 to Vernon Jack and Mildred Shiner. He grew up in towns along the Texas-Mexico border and graduated from El Paso High School, where he played the trumpet and was a member of the tennis team.
He then began studying chemistry at Texas Western College of Mining (now known as University of Texas at El Paso), where he met his future wife Reva. He enlisted in the Navy during WWII and served as a radar technician on a destroyer in the Pacific. After the war he completed his B.S. in Chemistry in 1947. Shiner earned his Ph.D. in organic chemistry at Cornell University in 1950. He spent 1950-51 as a Fulbright Postdoctoral Fellow at University College, London, working with Sir Christopher Ingold. From 1951-52 he worked with Paul Bartlett as a Senior Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard.
Shiner joined the Department of Chemistry at Indiana University in 1952 as an instructor and became a full professor in 1960. From 1959-60, he held a Sloan Research Fellowship, and he was a Fulbright Distinguished Scholar at the University of Zagreb in 1985. Shiner was recognized as one of the world’s experts on solvolysis and elimination reaction mechanisms, using isotope effects on reaction rates to study and elucidate basic mechanisms in chemical and biochemical reactions.
Shiner made major contributions to Indiana University in teaching and administration. In addition to the many students who have received advanced degrees under his tutelage, he actively pursued innovative approaches to the education of non-chemistry majors.
He served as Chair of the Department of Chemistry twice, once from 1962-67, a period of unprecedented growth in the department, and again from 1982-88, to supervise the construction of the new chemistry complex. He also served as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences from 1973-78.
Shiner, aged 95, passed away peacefully at home on May 26, 2021.