2020 Christopher S. Foote Lecture

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Organic chemist Professor Gonzalo Cosa (McGill University) gave the 2020 Foote Lecture on February 13, 2020.

In his lecture titled “Visualising Chemistry at the Single Molecule Level”, Cosa discussed his work developing probes that fluoresce and reveal details about chemical reaction occurring in cells. He probes the development and reactions of reactive oxygen species, a specialty of the late Professor Christopher Foote, for whom the lecture series is named. Cosa met Foote at a meeting in Cosa’s native Argentina while a graduate student at Ottawa, Canada at the time. Foote, who passed away in 2005 at the age of 70, was a highly-respected organic chemist who proved that singlet oxygen was the reactive oxidant in photooxidations.  

Select photos from the events can be viewed below and a complete photo gallery can be viewed here.


Professor Gonzalo Cosa’s lecture took place in the CS76 lecture hall.

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(Left) Graduate student 

Jordan Dotson asks a question during the Q&A. 

(Right) Ken Houk and Dean Miguel 


presented Cosa with an engraved glass award after his lecture.

Following the lecture, members of the Foote family, faculty, alumni, friends, and the Foote Fellows in Organic Chemistry (a graduate student fellowship endowed by the Foote family), gathered for a dinner celebration at the UCLA Faculty Center. At the dinner, the current Senior and Junior Foote Fellows introduced themselves and spoke briefly about their research and goals.  

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(Left) Michael Jung, his wife Alice Jung, Spencer and Judith Foote, Ken Houk. (Right) Tom and Florence Foote.

Special guests at the dinner were Foote’s wife Professor Judith Smith, physiologist and long-time Dean and Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education, and Founding Dean of UCLA’s Herb Alpert School of Music, her son Tom Foote and his wife Florence, and their son Spencer. Also attending the events were Alice Jung, alumnus Professor Thomas Poon (Ph.D. ’94 Foote), Executive Vice President and Provost, Loyola Marymount University, and alumni and Cal State LA faculty members Professors Carlos Gutierrez (B.S. ’71), Matthias Selke (Ph.D. ’95 Foote), and Linda Tunstad (Ph.D. ’90 Cram).  

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(Left) Cal State LA faculty members and alumni Linda Tunstad, Matthias Selke, and Carlos Gutierrez. (Right) Juli Feigon, holder of the Christopher Foote Term Chair, Thomas Poon (Loyola Marymount) and Craig Merlic.  

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Foote family and friends with Chemistry & Biochemistry faculty: (back row) Ellen Sletten, Heather Maynard, Carlos Gutierrez, Linda Tunstad, Thomas Poon, Spencer Foote, Tom Foote, Miguel 


, Anne Andrews, Ohyun Kwon, Michael Jung, Alice Jung, Matthias Selke, (front row) Neil Garg, Ken Houk, Florence Foote, Judith Foote, Gonzalo Cosa, Juli Feigon.
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Judith Smith (front row, third from left) with current Senior and Junior Foote Fellows. (Back row, left to right) Cooper Jamieson, Francesca Ippoliti, Jason Chari, Michael Yamano, Christopher Jones, Benjamin Wigman, Angel Mendoza, Stasik Popov, Matthew McVeigh, Daniel Estabrook, Maly Cosco. (Front row, left to right) Sarah Anthony, Ishika Saha, Professor Judi Smith, Allison Hacker, Ana Bulger, Laura Wonilowicz.

Foote100About Professor Christopher Foote (1935-2005)

A UCLA faculty member for his entire career, Foote made the groundbreaking discovery of the role of singlet oxygen, an electronically excited form of the oxygen in the air, in reactions of organic molecules caused by sunlight and ultraviolet light. Foote’s discovery, established by developing an independent chemical route to singlet oxygen, was made in 1964 while he was still an instructor at UCLA. This became the fundamental principle that led to a rich career exploring the interactions of singlet oxygen with a broad range of chemicals, ranging from DNA and other biological molecules to nanomaterials. His research led to important new findings about why molecular oxygen is both essential to life processes and is a major agent of biological damage.Foote also influenced thousands of undergraduate students in the U.S. and other countries as co-author of the widely used organic chemistry textbook, Brown and Foote, now in its fourth edition as Brown, Foote, and Iverson.

In 2005, on the occasion of Foote’s 70th birthday, his former coworkers and faculty at UCLA established the Christopher S. Foote Fellowship in Organic Chemistry in his honor. Foote and his wife, Professor Judi Smith, donated the funds to fully fund the endowment. Sadly, Foote passed away soon after the fellowship was established. The Foote fellowships are awarded to outstanding applicants to the UCLA graduate program in organic chemistry (Junior Fellowship) or recognizes accomplishments in graduate studies and research in organic chemistry as well as performance on the qualifying examination for the Ph.D. degree (Senior Fellowship). 

Smith, a physiologist, long-time Dean and Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education at UCLA, and Founding Dean of UCLA’s Herb Alpert School of Music, continues to be a supporter of the department.

In addition, the Christopher S. Foote Chair of Chemistry at UCLA, currently held by Professor Juli Feigon, is named after Foote. In 1990, Dean M. Willard made a gift to the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry that established an endowed chair to strengthen its faculty recruitment efforts. In 2006, the Chair holder was Professor Fred Wudl. Wudl generously agreed to provide his chair funds, with the permission of Willard, to create the Christopher S. Foote Term Chair.  

Several distinguished scientists have given the Christopher S. Foote Lecture – Daniel Singleton (Texas A&M) in 2010, Cynthia Burrows (University of Utah) in 2011, Peter R. Ogilby (Aarhus University) in 2012, Joan Valentine (UCLA) in 2014, and Eric Block (University of Albany, SUNY) in 2018. 

Photos and article by Penny Jennings, UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, penny@chem.ucla.edu.