Phi Lambda Upsilon was founded as an honorary society in March 1899 at the University of Illinois. The society stands as a monument to the enthusiasm and zeal of Horace C. Porter, Paul F. A. Rudnick, and Fred C. Koch, who, at the time, were seniors majoring in chemistry. The founders were assisted in their undertaking by Professors Arthur W. Palmer, Harry S. Grindley, and Samuel W. Parr, who continued for many years to manifest an active interest in the Society and to work for the maintenance of its high standards.
The aims and purposes of the Society were from its inception "the promotion of high scholarship and original investigation in all branches of pure and applied chemistry." Through these objectives the founders envisaged a society which would serve the field of chemistry in the same manner that Phi Beta Kappa does in the Humanities, Sigma Xi scientific research, and Tau Beta Pi in Engineering. Throughout its history, Phi Lambda Upsilon has shown a consistent devotion to its objectives as an honor society
The Rho chapter of Phi Lambda Upsilon began at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1922. Members of the Rho chapter are graduate and undergraduate students in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, elected on the basis of their academic achievement and potential. Members include exceptional students from both pure and applied fields of chemistry.
The Rho chapter members participate in a variety of social and service activities throughout the school year and summer. Our chapter sponsors and coordinates annual, family-oriented summer picnics and Winter holiday dinners, and Valentine's day sales. These events are well attended, bring a sense of camaraderie and goodwill, and boost morale in the department. We raise funds through sales of combination locks and model kits to undergraduate students enrolled in chemistry labs. We offer service to the Department of Chemistry by providing a forum for graduate students to discuss relevant issues with chemistry department heads through our "Chat with the Chair conference series", recycling office paper once a week, awarding travel grants to Rho chapter members attending regional and national conferences, and providing a lounge for Rho chapter members and graduate students. In addition, our chapter sponsors the PLU-Rho Chapter Lectureship which brings in noted chemists to give colloquiums, attendance at which are made available to the public free of charge.