Texas Tech University

In Memoriam

Dr. David B. Knaff

Horn Professor David Barry Knaff died January 27, 2016 at the age of 74. He received his B.S. degree in Chemistry in 1962 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and he received an M.S. degree in Chemistry (1963) and a Ph.D. in Chemistry (1966) from Yale University (supported by an NSF predoctoral fellowship). He then conducted postdoctoral research in plant biochemistry at the University of California, Berkeley (supported by an NIH postdoctoral fellowship).

Dr. Knaff

Dr. Knaff joined the faculty of Texas Tech University in 1976 as an Associate Professor in the, then, Department of Chemistry. Dr. Knaff rose through the academic ranks and in 1987 he was promoted to Paul Whitfield Horn Professor (highest faculty rank at TTU) in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

He served a six-year term as Chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and he served as Director for the Center of Biotechnology and Genomics. Dr. Knaff was a founding member of the group that established the Center approximately 25 years ago and he was the driving force for the creation, in 2001, of the Biotechnology M.S. program and the dual degree M.S./J.D. program with the TTU School of Law.

Dr. Knaff published extensively in the area of plant biochemistry (over 220 refereed journal articles, reviews and book chapters, in addition to co-authorship of a graduate-level text book in the field of bioenergetics) and he served as Editor-in-Chief of the journal, Photosynthesis Research. His research had been continuously funded, for more than 40 years, by federal agencies (DOE, NSF and USDA) and private foundations. He regularly reviewed manuscripts for high-impact journals and grant proposals submitted to federal agencies. He served on numerous DOE, USDA and NSF panels, in addition to having spent one year as a program director at the USDA. He had collaborations all over the world and he spent time as a distinguished visiting professor in France, the Netherlands and Switzerland.

Dr. Knaff was awarded the Texas Tech University President's Academic Achievement Award in 1987. In 2004, he was awarded the Barney Rushing Award for Outstanding Research and in 2006 he received the Texas ARCS (Academic Rewards for College Scholars) Scientist of the Year award.


David Wayne Purkiss

Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry NMR Spectroscopist David Wayne Purkiss died December 2, 2015 at the age of 60. He was the NMR Spectroscopist for the Texas Tech Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry for over 30 years.

Dr. Morales

He was born November 7, 1956 in Searcy, Arkansas. He earned his bachelor's degree from the University of Central Arkansas in 1980 and his master's degree from Texas Tech University in 1984. Upon receiving his masters degree, David joined the staff at Texas Tech where he operated and maintained the Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectrometer and the mass spectrometer.

During his time at Texas Tech, David oversaw and facilitated the replacement of the original XL 100 MHz NMR first with a 200 and a 300 MHz NMRs eventually evolving to the current Eclipse 1: JEOL ECS 400 MHz NMR, Eclipse 2 JEOL 400 MHz NMR and a Varian Unity Inova 500 MHz NMR. He also assisted in the research of several faculty members and many graduate students over the years.

David had other accomplishments. He was an expert photographer, an amateur radio operator and a mentor member of the West Texas Storm Spotting Team. As a storm spotter he was trained by the National Weather Service and he is credited with helping to save the population of Happy, Texas from a tornado in 2002.

He is survived by his nephew, Michael Purkiss of San Diego, CA, his cousin Susan Benton of Searcy, Arkansas, and family, friends and colleagues throughout the US and the world.