Two international chemistry conferences honor Professor Ken Houk

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In May and June 2018, symposia in Shenzhen, China, and Vancouver, Canada, honored Ken Houk, the UCLA Saul Winstein Research Professor in Organic Chemistry. 

The 2nd International Symposium on Organic Reaction Mechanisms, in Honor of Kendall N. Houk, was held May 15-16, 2018, at Peking University Graduate School in Shenzhen to honor Houk’s 75th birthday this year. Distinguished speakers, including Professor Yi Tang from UCLA, and many former Houk group members, featured at this event.

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Symposium Chair, PKU-Shenzhen Chancellor Yundong Wu (UCLA, 1986-1991), introduces the symposium.

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The attendees at the Shenzhen Symposium.

The Reaction Mechanisms Conference held its 37th meeting and celebrated its 52nd year in Vancouver, BC, Canada, on June 10-13, 2018. The meeting honored Houk for his contributions to the field of mechanistic organic chemistry.  Current and past Houk group members spoke and attended, along with an international group of speakers and attendees.

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Former Houk UCLA group members participated in the Vancouver RMC.  Left to right:  Dean Tantillo (UC Davis), Paul Cheong (Oregon State), Jeehiun Lee (Rutgers), Jason Fell (UCLA), Ken Houk, Peng Liu (Pittsburgh), Seonah Kim (NREL), Buck Taylor (Portland), Xiaofei Dong (UCLA), Zhongyue Yang (MIT), Pier Alexandre Champagne (Ottawa).

A professor of organic chemistry at UCLA, Houk has pioneered the use of computer calculations and simulations to study organic chemistry and to predict chemical reactivity. His research group has made predictions of new phenomena that have been verified experimentally, and he has made critical contributions to our understanding of how enzymes are able to selectively catalyze reactions. He and his colleagues conduct research on computational methods to predict catalysts for reactions that will have important applications in industry and in therapies for fighting disease. Houk received his A.B. (1964), M.S. (1966), and Ph.D. (1968) degrees at Harvard, working with R. A. Olofson as an undergraduate and R. B. Woodward as a graduate student in the area of experimental tests of orbital symmetry selection rules. He joined the faculty at Louisiana State University in 1968. In 1980, he moved to the University of Pittsburgh, and in 1986, he moved to UCLA, becoming a Distinguished Professor in 1987. In 2015, Houk reached a milestone in his distinguished career with his 1,000th research publication. Since then he has published over 100 more  articles in refereed journals and is among the 100 most-cited chemists. Houk was named Saul Winstein Chair in Organic Chemistry in 2009, and he was elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences in 2010.  To learn more about Houk’s research, visit his group’s website.
Photos courtesy of Professor Ken Houk.