Foote Lecture

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Select photos from the 2014 Christopher S. Foote Lecture are now available for viewing.

Professor Joan S. Valentine (Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of California, Los Angeles) was the speaker for the 2014 Christopher S. Foote Lecture held on February 20, 2014. Professor Valentine presented a talk titled, “Oxygen, Manganese, and Early Life on Earth.” The lecture was preceded by a reception in the Winstein Cafe Commons and followed by dinner at the UCLA Faculty Center, where faculty and graduate students were able to celebrate the life and career of Christopher Foote.  

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Top Left: Ken Houk presenting about the life and career of Christopher S. Foote
Top Right: Joan Valentine (Front center) and Judith Smith (Front center left) with the Foote Fellows
Bottom Left: Patrick Harran, Paul Weiss, Judith Smith, Anne Andrews, 
Joan Valentine, Craig Merlic, Mike Jung, Miguel Garcia-Garibay, Ken Houk, and Neil Garg
Bottom Center: Joan Valentine
Bottom Right: Christopher Foote About Christopher S. Foote

Christopher Foote earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Yale University in 1957. He entered Harvard University in 1958 and received his Ph.D. in 1962 for work with Nobel Laureate Robert Burns Woodward on solvolytic reactions, a major research interest of that era. The same year, he joined the UCLA faculty. During more than 40 years on the Westwood campus, Christopher was an honored researcher and dedicated teacher, mentoring and training hundreds of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, while giving himself tirelessly to university service. His 43-year academic career established him as a world leader in the field of physical organic chemistry. Foote’s main research interest was the generation and reactions of reactive oxygen species in chemistry and biology. He was renowned as an authority on reactive oxygen species, known to biologists as “ROS,” including species such as singlet oxygen and superoxide – a form of oxygen with an excess electron. Foote produced more than 250 research papers that elegantly document discoveries on organic chemical reactions – many of which focus on how singlet oxygen, superoxide, and other forms of reactive oxygen influence biology, both as natural components of the immune system and as toxins. Christopher Foote was a leader in clarifying the complex chemistry induced by these simple but reactive molecules. His recent work on DNA damage and on the photophysical properties of the fullerenes were among the most influential discoveries from his laboratories. Christopher earned many prestigious awards for his achievements, most notably an Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Leo Hendrik Baekeland Award of the American Chemical Society. In 1994, he received some of the American Chemical Society’s highest honors: the Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award and the Tolman Medal of the Southern California Section of the American Chemical Society. His research was supported throughout his career by numerous grants from the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health. He was highly prized as consultant to prominent companies such as Procter & Gamble, Occidental, and Clorox due to his expertise on oxidation chemistry and biology. Christopher was the chair of the Department of Chemistry from 1978-1981, providing leadership that led to the construction of the Molecular Sciences Building (completed in 1994), and served as a strong advocate in developing the department’s commitment to hiring outstanding female scientists for faculty positions. In service to the broader UCLA community, Foote served as a member and chair of the Committee on Academic Personnel and was a member of the corresponding statewide committee for the UC system. He also served as member of the Executive Committee of the College. In keeping with his strong interest in computer technology, he was the first chair of the university’s Information Technology Planning Board, which helped to transform educational and administrative technology policy at UCLA. He was president of the American Society for Photobiology in 1988-89 and senior editor of the respected journal Accounts of Chemical Research from 1995 until his death. He also served as elected councilor for the American Association for the Advancement of Science. With his wife Judith L. Smith, former Dean and Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education at UCLA, Christopher was a patron of the Los Angeles Opera and the Da Camera Society as well as a benefactor of the L.A. Chamber Orchestra. They endowed the Foote Senior Graduate Fellowships, used to attract promising graduate students to the Organic Division at UCLA.