2023 M. Frederick Hawthorne Symposium

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On December 8, 2023, the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry honored Professor Christopher “Kit” C. Cummins (MIT), recipient of the ACS 2023 M. Frederick Hawthorne Award in Main Group Inorganic Chemistry, at the 2023 M. Frederick Hawthorne Symposium.

A poster session, symposium, and reception were held in the department’s new Mani L. Bhaumik Centennial Collaboratory and the Dongwon Yoo Seminar & Conference Hall.  A photo gallery from the event can be viewed here, and select photos can be viewed below.

2023 Hawthorne Symposium speakers (from left to right): Profs. Matthew Nava, Theodor Agapie, Jonas Peters, symposium organizer Paula Diaconescu, honoree Kit Cummins, Brandi Cossairt, Joshua Figueroa, and Alex Spokoyny.

Following welcoming remarks by Professor Paula Diaconescu, Chair of the Hawthorne Symposium, Cummins and six other prominent scientists delivered talks:

  • Professor Christopher C. Cummins – Keynote Address (Department of Chemistry, Massachusetts Institute of Technology) – “Sustainable Production of Reduced Phosphorus Compounds”
  • Professor Theodor Agapie (Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, California Institute of Technology) – “Effect of Bridging Carbon Ligands in Bioinorganic Clusters”
  • Professor Brandi M. Cossairt (Department of Chemistry, University of Washington) –  “Taking a Closer Look at the Structure, Surface Chemistry, and Conversion of Atomically Precise Semiconductor Clusters”
  • Professor Joshua Figueroa (Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of California, San Diego) – “Coordination Chemistry of Novel Diatomic Ligands of the Main Group”
  • Professor Matthew Nava (UCLA) – “Explorations of the Periodic Table with Chameleonic Nitroxides: Towards Hydrogen/Hydride Interconversion Chemistry”
  • Professor Jonas C. Peters (Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, California Institute of Technology) – “Reductive PCET Mediators for Electro- and Photoelectrocatalysis”
  • Professor Alex Spokoyny (UCLA) – “Vertex Differentiation Strategies for Building Complex Polyhedral Boranes”
(Left) Profs. Chong Liu, Division of Physical Sciences Dean Miguel García-Garibay, Jeffrey Zink, and Hannah Shaafat. (Right) Poster presenter graduate student Hootan Roshandel (Diaconescu group), Prof. Justin Caram, and Prof. Brandi M. Cossairt.

About Professor Christopher “Kit” C. Cummins
The Henry Dreyfus Professor in the Department of Chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Professor Christopher “Kit” C. Cummins has made significant contributions to the main group chemistry and the coordination chemistry of transition metal nitrides, phosphides, and carbides. His contributions to the chemistry of phosphorus containing compounds were particularly relevant to receiving the ACS 2023 M. Frederick Hawthorne Award in Main Group Inorganic Chemistry. Specifically, his research is seeking to render obsolete the energy intensive carbothermal reduction of phosphate to white phosphorus by converting phosphates directly to value added reduced phosphorus containing compounds, circumventing the redox inefficient and dangerous white phosphorus.

(Left) Honoree Prof. Christopher Cummins with graduate student Jose Moreno (Kwon group). (Right) Graduate student Shiyun Lin (Diaconescu group).
(Left) Symposium speaker Prof. Joshua Figueroa with graduate student Nima Adhami (Spokoyny group). (Right) Graduate student Pathorn H. Teptarakulkrn (Shafaat group) discussed his research with Prof. Chong Liu.

About the UCLA M. Frederick Hawthorne Symposium
Established in 2011, the UCLA M. Frederick Hawthorne Symposium honors the legacy of Professor M. Frederick Hawthorne, whose career spanned over six decades of ground-breaking work in main group chemistry.  Hawthorne’s work in boron chemistry and his time as a UCLA professor have greatly shaped the field and touched the lives of countless students, faculty, researchers, and staff. 

In 2020, in honor of his contributions, the American Chemical Society (ACS) established the M. Frederick Hawthorne Award in Main Group Inorganic Chemistry. The award recognizes researchers who have made significant contributions to chemistry involving the elements of groups 1, 2, and 13-18 in the periodic table, in keeping with the example provided by the Hawthorne.  The UCLA M. Frederick Hawthorne Symposium aims to celebrate and honor these recipients, with special consideration given to demonstrated creativity and independence of thought, in keeping with the example that Hawthorne provided.

(Left) Postdoctoral researcher Dr. Tyler A. Kerr and graduate student Yessica A. Nelson, both from the Spokoyny group, with their poster.  (Left) Graduate student Jeremy Dworkin (Kwon group) explains his research to Prof. Cummins.
(Left) Graduate student Lina M. Zarnitsa (Nava group) with Prof. Abby Kavner. (Right) Undergraduate researcher Michael J. Pung (Liu group) explains his research.

Prof. M. Frederick Hawthorne

About Professor M. Frederick Hawthorne
Professor M. Frederick Hawthorne (August 24, 1928 – July 8, 2021) was a true chemistry pioneer, discovering boron cluster structures that have paved the way in inorganic, organometallic, material, nanotechnology, and medicinal sciences. His award-winning work in boron chemistry and time as a distinguished Professor of Chemistry at UCLA have not only shaped and broadened the field, but also touched the lives of countless students, faculty, researchers, friends, and family.

Raymond and Dorothy Wilson

About the Raymond and Dorothy Wilson Endowment
The 2023 M. Frederick Hawthorne Symposium is made possible by the Raymond and Dorothy Wilson Endowment, which was established in 2001. Raymond A. Wilson (class of ’43) credited his UCLA education for giving him an excellent start to an immensely satisfying 40-year career with Shell Oil Company.  Through their generosity, the Wilsons 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.

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