Joseph T. Vanderslice, 71, a former chairman of the chemistry department at the University of Maryland, died June 5 of complications following an accidental fall at his home on Cobb Island. He broke his leg falling from a sea wall and died of positional asphyxia.

Dr. Vanderslice was born in Philadelphia. He graduated from Boston College and received a doctorate in chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

In 1952, he moved to the Washington area and joined the chemistry faculty at Catholic University. He joined the faculty at the University of Maryland in 1956. There, he was chairman of the chemical physics department, director of the Institute of Molecular Physics and chairman of the chemistry department.

From 1978 until 1994, Dr. Vanderslice was a research chemist at the nutrient composition laboratory at the Agriculture Department's Beltsville Nutrition Research Center.

He had received the Sigma Xi Award for Scientific Achievement, and he was a fellow of the American Physical Society. A faculty chair in chemistry was established in his honor this year at Boston College, where he received an Outstanding Alumni Award in 1979.

Dr. Vanderslice was author of 127 scientific papers.

A 29-year resident of Accokeek, Dr. Vanderslice moved to Cobb Island in 1995. He was chairman of the Save Our Sound Committee, which seeks to preserve the navigability of Neale Sound.

Survivors include his wife of 44 years, Patricia Horstmann of Cobb Island; eight children, Sharon Vanderslice of Belmont, Mass., Joseph T. Jr., Peter and Julie Vanderslice, all of Houston, John Vanderslice of Arkansas, Polly Saul of Baltimore, Jerry Vanderslice of Accokeek and Amy Walker of Alexandria; three brothers, Thomas A. Vanderslice of Osterville, Mass., James T. Vanderslice of Wilton, Conn., and John T. Vanderslice of Sterling; and 12 grandchildren.