Royce Murray, a UNC chemistry professor and researcher, was one of five N.C. winners of the award, which is issued by a state agency to recognize general excellence in any field.
Murray said he won the award for his work as an educator, researcher and editor. "My perception is the award is not solely for research, solely for education or solely for editing," Murray said. "It's a combination of those things."
The award, first handed out in 1964, was created by the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources. Fay Mitchell Henderson, a public information specialist, said candidates for the award are nominated by their peers.
"It's a recognition of a lifetime of achievement for the state and the nation," Henderson said.
Murray is the editor of the research journal Analytical Chemistry. He said the journal is recognized by colleagues as being the best in its field.
In addition to doing electrochemistry research for the University, Murray teaches both sophomore and senior sections of analytical chemistry. He also teaches chemistry to graduate students.
One of the main concentrations of Murray's current research deals with nanoparticles -- tiny clumps of metal atom -- and very little is known about them, he said.
"We want to learn how to make these things, analyze them and study their electrochemistry," Murray said.
Murray said one of the outcomes of understanding nanoparticles could be the development of a molecular computer, which he said could function much faster, have more memory and be smaller than any other computer in existence.