Richard Bernstein Lecture

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Professor Marcos Dantus (Michigan State University) gave the second Richard Bernstein Lecture of the year on October 21, 2019.

In his lecture titled “Extreme Chemical Reactivity in Solution and in Gas Phase”, Dantus presented his group’s recent work on highly active photobases and inducing novel chemical reactivity using shaped ultrafast pulses.  

Dantus began his talk by giving credit to the late Professor Richard Bernstein, for whom the lecture is named, for encouraging him to pursue a career in academia, which he loves. “I enjoy it so much,” Dantus said. “I feel like I’ve never worked a day in my life”. Dantus met Bernstein when he was a graduate student at the California Institute of Technology where Bernstein was collaborating with Dantus’ advisor Nobel Laureate Professor Ahmed H. Zewail.

Lecture organizer Professor Justin Caram introduced Dantus. The lecture was followed by a question-and-answer period and then a reception in the Young Hall Cafe Commons.

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(Left) Professor Justin Caram introduced Dantus. (Right)  Professor Marcos Dantus explained that Professor Richard Bernstein’s encouragement led him to pursue a career in academia.

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Dantus’ during his lecture titled “Extreme Chemical Reactivity in Solution and in Gas Phase”.

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Physical chemistry faculty members with Dantus at the reception following his lecture – Professors Bill Gelbart, 


 Levine, Dantus, Justin Caram, Sarah Tolbert, and Daniel Neuhauser.
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At the reception, Ph.D. students Hannah Friedman, Anu Deshmukh, Stephanie Tenney, Maya Segal, and Anthony Sica.

About Professor Marcos Dantus – 

Professor Marcos Dantus is a faculty member in the departments of chemistry and physics & astronomy at Michigan State University. He has pioneered the use of spectrally and temporally shaped ultrafast pulses as photonic reagents to probe molecular properties, control chemical reactions and for practical applications such as biomedical imaging, proteomics and standoff detection of explosives. Dantus’ contributions range from discovery of nonlinear optical properties and processes, invention of laser optimization instruments, and development of theory to simulate and predict the interaction of molecules with shaped laser beams. His development of an instrument capable of automated laser pulse compression is enabling research around the world as well as novel fiber laser designs. 

Dantus received his B.A. and M.A. degrees in chemistry from Brandeis University where he attended from 1982-1985. He received his Ph.D. from Caltech in 1991 where he worked with Professor Ahmed H. Zewail on the development of Femtosecond Transition State Spectroscopy, now known as Femtochemistry (1999 Chemistry Nobel Prize to Zewail). Dantus worked from 1991 to 1993 on the development of Ultrafast Electron Diffraction. To learn more about Dantus’ research, visit his group’s website.

Bernstein Richard Small 1About the Richard Bernstein Lectures

Professor Richard Bernstein was a much-honored professor of physical chemistry at UCLA from 1983 until his death in 1990 at the age of 66. He was known for pioneering molecular beam studies of the ultrafast processes that occur in chemical reactions. The Bernstein Lectureship Fund was established in 1991 by his friends, family and colleagues for a physical chemistry lecture in his memory. Read more about Bernstein in his biography written by his UCLA colleagues Professors Raphael Levine and Charles Knobler.

Penny Jennings, UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry,