Distinguished Lecture Series

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Professor Douglas Rees (Caltech/HHMI) gave the Fall 2016 UCLA Chemistry & Biochemistry Distinguished Lecture on Monday, October 10th.

Rees, the Roscoe Gilkey Dickinson Professor of Chemistry at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, and Dean of Graduate Studies presented his lecture, “Ironing Out the Nitrogenase Mechanism” at the UCLA California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI) Auditorium. Photos from the event are available below.    Rees joined the faculty of the UCLA Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry in 1982 and moved to Caltech in 1989.  At the lecture, Rees was introduced by UCLA biochemistry professor Todd Yeates who, as a UCLA undergraduate and graduate student, was one of Rees’ first lab members.   Rees had his first experience with electron transfer processes in microbes as an undergraduate studying cytochrome in Neurospora with Carolyn W. Slayman at Yale, where he completed his B.S. in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry in 1974. In 1980 he received a Ph.D. in Biophysics, determining crystal structures of carboxypeptidase A with William Lipscomb at Harvard.  While there he also became interested in multi-center electron-sharing bonds (e.g. in boranes). During a postdoctoral appointment at the University of Minnesota with James B. Howard, he began working on nitrogenase, a protein assembly whose multiple complex metal centers carry out the reactions that fix atmospheric nitrogen to ammonia. After arriving at UCLA, Rees began pursuing structural studies on nitrogenase and also began early work on the structures of transmembrane proteins.  At UCLA and then at CalTech, his research group has continued to make ground-breaking contributions to both the structural biology of transmembrane proteins and the chemical mechanisms of metal cofactor-based nitrogen fixation. Rees is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences.

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(From left) Department Chair Prof. Catherine Clarke gave the welcoming remarks.  Prof. Todd Yeates introduced Rees.  Rees Montage2
(From left) Prof. Douglas Rees during his lecture.  The CNSI auditorium was filled to capacity at the lecture. Rees2 Rees3 Rees5
At the reception following the lecture (from left) Miguel Garcia-Garibay, Todd Yeates, Douglas Rees, Catherine Clarke and Ken Houk. Rees6
David Eisenberg, Sabeeha Merchant and Douglas Rees.

Photos by Penny Jennings, UCLA Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.