ACS festschrift honors Professor William Gelbart

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The American Chemical Society (ACS) paid tribute to the accomplishments of Professor William Gelbart in a special issue of The Journal of Physical Chemistry.

The July 7, 2016 issue, published in his honor, is titled The William M. Gelbart Festschrift  with cover art created by Gelbart’s daughter, artist Eva Gelbart. This volume celebrated Gelbart’s 70th birthday. 

The guest editors of the special issue were his long-time friends and collaborators Prof. Avinoam Ben-Shaul (Institute of Chemistry, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem), Prof. Charles M. Knobler (UCLA Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry) and Prof. Andrea J. Liu (Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Pennsylvania).

“The Festschrift is remarkable in that it contains 71 articles (to match his 70th birthday — with one for good luck) in recognition of Bill’s scientific accomplishments from scientists from around the world and covering topics that parallel his interests over the years — from gas-phase molecular spectroscopy to liquid crystals and self-assembly to viruses and, finally, its unique cover — a collage drawn by Bill’s daughter Eva.” said Knobler.

Gelbart Art

The cover art and design (right), inspired by figures in Gelbart’s papers, was done in permanent markers, paint, collage, photos, transparency paper, and paper.   

The German term “festschrift” is commonly used to celebrate a senior scholar’s birthday with a special edition of original papers on topics relevant to the honoree’s research. 

Excerpts from William M. Gelbart: An Appreciation (by Avinoam Ben-Shaul, Charles M. Knobler and Andrea J. Liu):

“The very broad scope of the papers in this Festschrift attests to the wide range of research areas that Bill Gelbart has pursued over his 40-year research career and the influential contributions that he made to each of them. As noted in the accompanying Biography, Bill has followed a path that has taken him from theoretical studies of radiationless transitions in gas-phase molecular spectroscopy, to light scattering in fluids, and the statistical mechanics and bulk properties of soft matter systems: simple fluids, liquid crystals, membranes, and micelles. When he began to examine the physical properties of DNA the path took a turn toward biophysics that almost seamlessly led to studies of DNA packaging in and ejection from bacteriophages. This work began as theory but resulted in a switch to biomolecular experimentation. In this process he has evolved from a physical chemist with an interest in virology to a physical virologist with a background in physical chemistry. In his most recent work, in which he has focused on developing RNA replicons for gene delivery, he has moved still closer to biology; Bill is now even a “card carrying” member of the UCLA Institute for Molecular Biology.”

“With few exceptions, Bill’s publications are the result of collaborations, with students and postdocs but also with other senior scientists. His view is that, unlike other scholarly pursuits, such as studies in the humanities, where solitary work is the norm, one of the joys in the pursuit of science is its collaborative nature.”

“At its best, academic research is closely involved with teaching, and Bill is a master teacher, elegant in formal lectures and in the classroom and superb in informal expositions at the blackboard to small groups of students, often only one.”

“Above all, however, Bill is an expert at happiness. As with any pursuit, happiness requires work, and Bill practices constantly, exploiting every opportunity for happiness to the full. This enriches his own life and, not coincidentally, the lives of all of those who are fortunate enough to be around him.”

Read the entire appreciation here.

To learn more about Gelbart’s research, visit his group’s website.

The news was recently featured in UCLA Newsroom.