Remembering Stewart McLean

August 1, 2023 by Mayuri Punithan

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Professor Emeritus Stewart McLean (November 19, 1931- July 4, 2023). He joined the Department of Chemistry in 1960 and was promoted to full professor in 1971. He retired in 1997. 

McLean completed his B.Sc. in chemistry from the University of Glasgow. Upon graduation, he won a post-graduate exchange scholarship to study at Cornell University, where he completed his PhD in 1957. Prior to joining the University of Toronto, he conducted postdoctoral research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and worked at National Research Council in Ottawa. 

For nearly 40 years, McLean was committed to student engagement and education, particularly the undergraduate laboratory experience. Fellow faculty members fondly recall his passion for teaching organic synthesis courses.

In addition to his contributions to the University of Toronto, McLean helped transform the chemistry departments at the University of Guyana (UG) and the University of the West Indies (UWI), particularly at the following campuses: Mona (Jamaica), Cave Hill (Barbados) and St. Augustine (Trinidad). Namely, he spearheaded several collaborative research projects and partnerships between U of T, UG and UWI. He developed the Natural Resources Utilization Liaison project to further natural products chemistry research at UG. This project was funded by the CIDA and led to eight students receiving master’s degrees from UG. He also mentored and hosted 30 graduate students from UG and UWI, assisting them with their research projects. Ultimately, his initiatives resulted in over 150 scientific papers that described various novel compounds from terrestrial and marine sources in the Caribbean and Guyana. Several professors at UW and UG have commended McLean for his dedication to promoting and highlighting natural products research in Guyana and the Caribbean. 

His past students and colleagues have submitted entries on his obituary, remembering him for his mentorship and warm nature.