Frances Ann Walker was a world-renowned chemist, a wonderful mentor, well-respected
teacher, and a role model, especially for women, many of whom followed in her professional
footsteps. Ann, as her family, friends, students, and colleagues affectionately called her, was
born and raised in Adena, Ohio, the oldest of five siblings. She graduated from Adena High
School in 1958.
She attended the College of Wooster where in addition to her studies, she played clarinet in the
College of Wooster Scot Marching Band. She received her B.A. in Chemistry there in 1962
along with four other women classmates, who have remained in contact throughout their lives,
and her Ph.D. in Inorganic Chemistry from Brown University in 1966. She started her academic
career with a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California, Los Angeles, which was
funded by the National Institutes of Health. Thereafter, she became Assistant Professor of
Chemistry at Ithaca College in 1967 and three years later moved back to California to join the
Faculty at San Francisco State University. Excelling in both research and teaching, Ann was
rapidly promoted to Associate Professor of Chemistry in 1972 and to Professor of Chemistry &
Biochemistry in 1976. After developing a successful research program in porphyrin and iron
porphyrin chemistry, Ann moved to Arizona in 1990 to join the Faculty in the Department of
Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Arizona, where her research program expanded
to include heme protein structure and function. Ann’s prolific career at the University of Arizona
was rewarded with promotion to Regents Professor in 2001. In 2013, Ann retired as Regents
Ann’s novel findings in model heme and heme protein chemistry, which sparked a new era in
the field of paramagnetic resonance spectroscopy, resulted in the publication of more than 170
peer-reviewed papers, 19 chapters in books, and hundreds of published conference
proceedings and abstracts. Ann’s remarkable work was recognized by numerous prestigious
awards. To name a few, in 2000 she was awarded the Francis P. Garvan-John M. Olin Medal
which recognizes female chemists for distinguished scientific accomplishment, leadership and
service to chemistry. In 2006 she was awarded the Alfred Bader Award in Bioinorganic or
Bioorganic Chemistry for her contributions to the field of bioinorganic chemistry. In 2020, she
received the Eraldo Antonini Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society of Porphyrins and
Phthalocyanines in recognition of her exceptional, internationally acclaimed research on heme
proteins and metalloporphyrins. Ann’s contributions to chemistry were also celebrated by her
election in 2011 as Fellow of the American Chemical Society in recognition of her outstanding
achievements and contributions to science, the profession and the Society, her excellence in
scientific leadership and her exceptional volunteer service to the scientific community. Ann was
also elected to serve (1998-2010) as Associate Editor for the prestigious Journal of the
American Chemical Society, the flagship journal of the American Chemical Society.
Ann was a ferocious worker with what seemed like a limitless reservoir of energy. Her research
program, supported by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation,
focused on investigating the electronic structure, bonding, thermodynamics, and kinetics of
hemes and other metallomacrocycles. Whereas Ann’s early work concentrated on the
understanding of synthetic porphyrins and their iron complexes, she later incorporated the tools
of recombinant DNA technology to expand her research interests to include heme proteins and
the enzymatic reactions these molecules carry out in living organisms. Her fundamental
discoveries in porphyrins and related iron complexes paved the way for her and others to study
and understand how heme, an iron porphyrin complex present in many important heme
containing proteins, enables the remarkable and central role these proteins play in living cells.
Ann also was a caring and remarkable mentor for uncounted undergraduate, graduate and
postdoctoral students she mentored, all of whom are pursuing rewarding professional careers
either in academia or in industry. Her influence on female scientists and students from
underrepresented groups was notable. Ann led and mentored by example. Her passion for
research and education, driven by her impeccable professionalism and her strikingly intelligent,
conscientious, and quiet manner earned her the respect and love of her students and
colleagues alike. Everyone fortunate enough to have had Ann as mentor and friend is indebted
to her for having enriched and furthered their own scientific careers. Ann lived her life fully and
with the certainty that she would leave this world a better place.
Ann married Frederick R “Fritz” Jensen, an organic chemistry professor at the University of
California Berkeley in 1976, and they had many adventures until his death in 1987 after a long
Ann was always very involved in her church. She was an elder at Trinity Presbyterian Church in
Tucson, serving on the session for several terms during her 30 years there. She also was a
very active member of the pastoral search committee when it was needed on several occasions,
taking this role very seriously. Additionally, she served on the Presbyterian Campus Ministry
Ann loved to travel. She often combined interesting trips with chemistry conferences and
symposia. She did sabbaticals in England, Germany, and Argentina and made regular trips to
Luebeck, Germany to perform Moessbauer spectra in the lab of Alfred Trautwein. She traveled
to interesting places all around the world, including Russia, many European countries, Machu
Picchu in Peru, China, Japan, Australia, and the high mountain Atacama observatory and desert
in Chile. She traveled to all 8 continents (including Madagascar), often including family
members. She took sister Janet (age 15) to Europe in 1970 for a month, cementing the travel
bug in her too. Ann and Fritz bought land in Panajachel, Guatemala on the scenic high
mountain Lake Atitlan and built a house there. Several family members including Bob and Janet
visited them when they were there at Christmastime or in the summers, having many
adventures. Ann and Fritz visited brother David in Alaska in 1976. Ann, Janet and Janet’s wife
Kathy traveled together to Antarctica in 2014, and Ann and sister Betty took a four month cruise
around the world in 2019.
Ann died on Jan 30, 2022, after a long illness. Her parents were Robert W. and Marian S.
Walker, and she is survived by siblings Elizabeth W. “Betty” Campbell, Robert A. “Bob” Walker,
David W. Walker (wife Bobbi) and Janet M. Walker (wife Kathy), nieces Kristin and Michelle
Campbell, Elizabeth “Beth” Todd and Mari W. Walker, nephews Scott A. Campbell, Robert A.
Walker and Mark S. Walker, and grand-nieces Ayanna Nimrod, Abigail and Esther Todd, Lydia
Walker and grand-nephew Luke Walker.
A memorial service will be planned March 18, 2023, at Covenant Presbyterian Church, Harrisville, from 10 to 11 a.m. In lieu of flowers, donations in her name can
be sent to Trinity Presbyterian Church in Tucson: http://trinitytucson.org.
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