Distinguished Alumni Award


Rex Montgomery

2012 Distinguished Forevermore Staff Award

Rex Montgomery spent more than five decades as a University of Iowa scientist, producing groundbreaking research and educational programs that have helped transform the field of biochemistry and the university itself.

The professor emeritus in the UI Department of Biochemistry got his start as an academic leader—and as a mentor for students and colleagues alike—in England, where Montgomery received a 1943 bachelor's of science degree and a 1946 doctorate degree from the University of Birmingham.

Following nine years of postdoctoral study in England and the United States, he accepted a position as assistant professor of biochemistry at the UI in 1955. He quickly rose through the ranks, becoming a professor in 1963 and—following a sabbatical leave to the Australian National University in Canberra—associate dean for academic affairs in the Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine in 1974.

Montgomery served in this capacity until 1995, during which time he also held the positions of associate dean of research in the Carver College of Medicine and interim vice president of research for the university.

His own research interests focused on the role that the carbohydrate groups in glycoproteins and glycolipids play in biological functions such as cellular-transport processes, communication, and immune response against disease, and his work garnered more than $30 million in funding for the university. After publishing his first paper in Nature in 1946, Montgomery went on to author approximately 130 original research publications, 28 reviews, and three books. This prestigious body of work established him as one of the 20th century's most important carbohydrate biochemists, and his scholarly contributions had a major global impact in the field for more than three decades.

Along with conducting breakthrough research, Montgomery also spent thousands of hours teaching biochemistry to graduate, medical, dental, pharmacy, and physician assistant students. In fact, he even established a new physician assistant program at the UI in 1973, serving as its director until 1976. In the years since, graduates of this program have gone on to help myriad patients throughout the state, the nation, and the world. To recognize this achievement, the UI named the Rex Montgomery Physician Assistant Student Society and scholarship fund in his honor.

With all of these academic contributions to Montgomery's name, it's fitting that his friends, colleagues, and former students describe him as a source of personal and professional inspiration, calling him a "towering figure," a "quintessential university professor... who leads by remarkable example," and a "perfect mentor."

Though he officially retired from the UI in 2006, Montgomery generously invests in the university through charitable giving. He still comes to work, where he continues to make an active impact through writing papers and reviews.

Thanks to his lifelong passion for learning and teaching, and his quest for new discoveries, Rex Montgomery leaves a lasting legacy at the University of Iowa—and in the world of biochemistry.

Montgomery is a member of the UI Alumni Association's Old Capitol Club and the UI Foundation's Presidents Club.


About Distinguished Alumni Awards

Since 1963, the University of Iowa has annually recognized accomplished alumni and friends with Distinguished Alumni Awards. Awards are presented in seven categories: Achievement, Service, Hickerson Recognition, Faculty, Staff, Recent Graduate, and Friend of the University.


Related Content

The inaugural event showcased artistic collaboration happening on campus and beyond.

The UI student-founded nonprofit has launched endeavors like the 10,000 Hours Show, Mission Creek Festival, and Quire.

With the start of a new year upon us, it's time to look back at your favorite University of Iowa stories from 2018. Here are Iowa Magazine's top 10 most-read articles of the year: The Nomadic Life (spring 2018) Hawkeye football favorite Paki O'Meara (10BA) finds ultimate freedom in backpacking around the world, taking photos that inspire a sense of wonder. PHOTO COURTESY PAKI O'MEARA Kinnick at 100 (summer 2018) This past summer marked two historically significant dates for Hawkeye fans: the 100th anniversary of the birth of Nile Kinnick (40BA), and the 75th anniversary of his tragic death. In memory of Iowa's favorite son, scholar, and Ironman, we look back on his life and legacy. Ahead of the Game (spring 2018) The Iowa football team becomes the first in the nation to equip the majority of its players with a state-of-the-art new helmet designed to improve player safety. PHOTO: MARK STASTNY Hollywood U (fall 2018) Alumni success in TV and film shines the spotlight on Iowa's? flourishing screenwriting program. ILLUSTRATION: FABIEN GILBERT / ARTISTIQUE INTERNATIONAL Mountain Roots (spring 2018) Nearly 80 years ago, an unlikely UI mountain-climbing club emerged from the cornfields of Iowa to become one of the most active in the world. Now the next generation of outdoorsmen continue in their Hawkeye family's footsteps. PHOTO COURTESY EBERT FAMILY The Secrets of Sleep (fall 2018) UI doctors and researchers work to shine light on the third of our lives we spend in the dark. Illustration: John Emigh Fry's Dream Team (fall 2018) FRYFest honors Hayden Fry's legendary 1983 coaching tree. PHOTO: UI ATHLETICS Going the Distance (spring 2018) UI-trained dentist Deb Carneol (92DDS) completes seven marathons on seven continents in seven days. PHOTO: MARK CONLON/WORLDMARATHONCHALLENGE.COM At 105, Our Oldest Hawkeye? (spring 2018) Catherine Shaw Shors (35BSC), who earned her business degree from Iowa more than eight decades ago, celebrated a milestone birthday in May. 1936 HAWKEYE YEARBOOK A Heroic Homecoming (spring 2018) Avengers: Infinity War director Joe Russo (92BA) receives a superhero's welcome at his alma mater. PHOTOS: Justin Torner

The Iowa Black Alumni Association promotes the general mission and purposes of the University of Iowa.

We use cookies to understand how you use our site and to improve your experience. By continuing to use our site, you accept our use of cookies in accordance with our Privacy Statement unless you have disabled them in your browser.