2019-20 UCLA Edward A. Dickson Emeritus Professorship Award

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Professor Ken Houk receives 2019-20 Edward A Dickson Emeritus Professorship Award in recognition of his outstanding contributions and service since retirement.

“Professor Houk’s activity since retirement has been at least equal to that of most of his senior colleagues,” said Vice Chancellor Michael S. Levine in the award announcement below.  “[He] is an internationally famous scholar and a marvelous credit to his department and to UCLA.”

To learn more about Houk and his research, visit his group’s website. Houk is the second awardee from our department. Professor Charles Knobler received the 2008-2009 award.   

Houk Montage Highres

A sampling of photos from Professor Ken Houk’s 2019 activities. Click on image for larger version. Captions are below

Excerpt from the UCLA Office of the Vice Chancellor for Academic Personnel announcement:

2019-2020 Edward A. Dickson Emeritus Professorship Award Recipients Named

The Dickson Emeritus Professorship Award is funded from a gift endowment established by the late Edward A. Dickson, Regent of the University of California, to honor outstanding research, scholarly work, teaching, and service performed by an Emeritus or Emerita Professor since retirement.

Three UCLA emeriti professors have been selected to receive the 2019 – 2020 Edward A. Dickson Emeritus Professorship Award, which includes a prize of $5,000: Professor Emeritus Christopher B. Cooper, Saul Winstein Distinguished Research Professor Kendall N. Houk, and Distinguished Research Professor Pamela Munro.

Kendall N. Houk, Saul Winstein Distinguished Research Professor in Organic Chemistry, retired after 31 years at UCLA in 2016 and received the unusual extension of the Saul Winstein Endowed Chair that he held since 2009. Professor Houk’s activity since retirement has been at least equal to that of most of his senior colleagues, including over 180 publications in top research journals such as Nature, Science, and the Journal of the American Chemical Society, additionally he is awarded research funding of approximately $900,000-$1,000,000 each year.

Professor Houk provides about 60 invited lectures in many countries, teaches about one-half the usual teaching load of a full-time faculty member, and continues active department and university service on committees. Among his research group’s major discoveries following his retirement is the development of methods to follow reactions by molecular dynamics revealing how reactions occur. His collaboration with his UCLA colleagues and investigators from around the world continue to provide major new insights into chemical reactions. Professor Houk continues to teach Modern Physical Organic Chemistry and Ethics in Chemical Research. He has served as the Organic Division Liaison, organized UCLA Research Showcases at American Chemical Society meetings, organized Winstein, Foote, and Roberts lectures, chaired or co-chaired the department’s Distinguished Lecture Committee and Awards Committee, and served on its Diversity, Chemistry Graduate Program, and Mentoring committees. Since 2018, he has served on the University Faculty Research Lecture Committee.

Distinguished Research Professor Houk is an internationally famous scholar and a marvelous credit to his department and to UCLA.


Photo captions (clockwise starting at top left):

1. Visiting with Cross-disciplinary Scholars in Science and Technology program (CSST) scholars at a reception for Chemistry & Biochemistry undergraduate and high school summer researchers on August 1, 2019.

2. With collaborator Professor Xiaosong Xue during a 2019 visit to Nankai University, holding custom-made “Houk” socks.

3. At the Spring 2019 Distinguished Lecture reception with Dean of Physical Sciences Miguel Garcia-Garibay, Professor Catherine Clarke, and speaker Professor Zhenan Bao (UC Berkeley).

4. At the 2019 Orville L. Chapman Lecture, showing a rendition of the molecule that speaker Professor François Diederich (ETH Zurich) made in his Ph.D. work at Heidelberg.

5. At the 2019 Exploring Your Universe, with his group members at their “Chemistry Cornhole” booth.

6. At Houk’s September 23, 2019 special lecture in Tianjin, China to commemorate Nankai University’s 100th birthday, with Professor Chen Jun.

7. Making the welcoming remarks at the UCLA Research Showcase at the American Chemistry Society (ACS) National Meeting in San Diego on August 27, 2019 with Professor Heather Maynard.

8. At the Departmental Awards Ceremony on April 22, 2019 presenting the Herbert Newby McCoy Awards to Professors Jose Rodriguez (center) and Hosea Nelson (right).

Penny Jennings, UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, penny@chem.ucla.edu.