The 2016 M. Frederick Hawthorne Lecture

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Professor Marcetta Darensbourg (Texas A&M University) was honored at the April 20, 2016 event.

Prof. Darensbourg’s seminar, titled “Hydrogenase Inspired Bioorganiometallic Chemistry”, took place at the California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI) auditorium. Inorganic chemistry professor Alexander Spokoyny made introductory remarks, thanked donors Raymond and Dorothy Wilson whose generous endowment made the event possible, and he spoke about the career of Prof. M. Frederick Hawthorne for whom the lecture is named.

The lecture was followed by a reception in the CNSI lobby and a dinner with faculty and students at the UCLA Faculty Center. Photos from the events can be viewed at the on-line photo gallery.  

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UCLA inorganic chemistry faculty with the honored speaker and faculty guests.

 From left: 

Richard Kaner, Xiangfeng Duan, Donald Darensbourg (Texas A&M), Travis Williams (USC), Alexander Spokoyny, Marcetta Darensbourg (Texas A&M), Jeffrey Zink, Paula Diaconescu.

Prof. Darensbourg received her Ph.D. from the University of Illinois. Following academic posts at Vassar College and Tulane University, she joined the faculty at Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, in 1982. She holds the title of Distinguished Professor of Chemistry. Trained as an organometallic chemist and with earlier research programs in low valent transition metal hydrides, the possibility of metal hydrides in nature, specifically as intermediates in hydrogenase metalloenzymes lured her into the new field of bioorganometallic chemistry. She has been a leader in the development of synthetic analogues of the diiron hydrogenase active site and the insight they bring to the catalytic mechanism of these natural fuel cell catalysts.

Prof. Darensbourg’s husband, Donald J. Darensbourg, a professor of chemistry at Texas A&M, attended the day’s events. He also presented a special Inorganic seminar on April 19th titled “Copolymerization Reactions of Carbon Dioxide and Epoxides”.

About the M. Frederick Hawthorne Lecture

Hawthorne1 0The annual M. Frederick Hawthorne Lecture was established in 2011 with Professor Hawthorne delivering the inaugural lecture.

M. Frederick Hawthorne majored in chemistry at Pomona College and went on to receive his Ph.D. in physical organic chemistry from UCLA in 1953. He’s considered a pioneer in boron chemistry, having created, alongside colleagues, a collection of boranes, carboranes and metallacarboranes, which have been used in a variety of applications, including medical imaging, drug delivery and nanomachines.

In 2006 Hawthorne retired from UCLA and founded the International Institute of Nano and Molecular Medicine at the University of Missouri, where he is Institute Director and Curators’ Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Radiology.  He spent 32 years at the helm of the journal Inorganic Chemistry. He has authored or co-authored more than 500 research papers and 10 patents, and has received international recognition and numerous awards.  

Other scientists to be honored as Hawthorne lecturers have been Prof. Omar K. Farha (Northwestern) in 2015, Prof. William Evans (UC Irvine) in 2014, Prof. Philip Power (UC Davis) in 2013 and Prof. Chad Mirkin (Northwestern) in 2012.

About the Raymond and Dorothy Wilson Endowment

Raymond Dorothy WilsonThe 2016 M. Frederick Hawthorne Lecture is made possible by the Raymond and Dorothy Wilson Endowment which was established in 2001. Raymond A. Wilson (class of ’43) credits his UCLA education for giving him an excellent start to an immensely satisfying 40-year career with Shell Oil Company.  Although he graduated nearly seventy years ago, he has enduring memories of several UCLA chemistry professors who profoundly affected his life – Professor Charles D. Coryell and James D. McCullough. Through their generosity, the Wilsons have built a solid legacy in the department which is also a lasting tribute to the chemistry professors who had such a profound impact on a bright young chemistry student.

Event photos by Penny Jennings, UCLA Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry