Sep 6, 2019
Professor Ken Houk
Organic chemistry professor Ken Houk is co-author of a newly released textbook titled “Organic Chemistry: Theory, Reactivity and Mechanisms in Modern Synthesis”.
 
Houk’s co-author is Professor Pierre Vogel of the EPFL in Lausanne, Switzerland. The foreword for the book was written by Nobel Laureate Professor Robert Grubbs of the California Institute of Technology. 
 
“Pierre and I have been friends for years.He is a renaissance chemist, expert in physical organic chemistry, catalysis and natural product total synthesis as well," Houk said. "He was the prime mover and author of the book, that began about 15 years ago. I visited Lausanne several times to work with him on the book and to visit and enjoy his family winemaking business, too! Chapters were sent back and forth between Lausanne and Los Angeles numerous times to make them as perfect as we could, for graduate students and advanced researchers, too.”
 
According to the publisher’s website, the textbook is “the know-how about reactivity, reaction mechanisms, thermodynamics and other basics in physical organic chemistry is the key for successful organic reactions. This textbook presents comprehensively this knowledge to the student and to the researcher, too.” The release of the book was announced at the American Chemical Society (ACS) meeting in San Diego this August.
 
 “Written by two international highly renowned experts, this textbook is not only a resource for graduate students, Ph.D. students and postdocs, but also for chemists and chemical engineers who develop new reactions and procedures,” the promotional flier for the textbook states.  
 
UCLA’s Saul Winstein Professor of Organic Chemistry, Houk is an authority on theoretical and computational organic chemistry. His group develops rules to understand reactivity, computationally models complex organic reactions, and experimentally tests the predictions of theory. He collaborates prodigiously with chemists all over the world. Houk has published nearly 1250 articles in refereed journals and is among the 100 most-cited chemists, but this book is his first published textbook. To learn more about Houk’s research, visit his group’s website.
 
Penny Jennings, UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, penny@chem.ucla.edu.