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Haverford College

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George Whitesides At Haverford

Dr. George M. Whitesides, the Mallinckrodt Professor of Chemistry at Harvard University, gave two separate talks on aspects of his research in nanoscience and nanotechnology to invited guests and alumni from the scientific and corporate community, as well as science faculty from area colleges and universities.

Whitesides has long been recognized for his multidisciplinary approaches to research in nanoscience, particularly in the realm of molecular self-assembling. Using classical chemical techniques, he and his research group at Harvard work in areas of research that involve biochemistry, materials science, catalysis and physical organic chemistry. Among his contributions to the development of functional nanostructures is the identification of a particular type of system called SAMs or “self-assembled monolayer structures.” SAMs are among the first self-assembling molecular systems to be moved into technology, and they are expected to provide valuable information about technology transfer and nanotechnology.

Over the past 34 years, Whitesides has received numerous fellowships and awards beginning in 1968 when, at the age of 29, he received an Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship. The American Chemical Society has honored him with its most prestigious awards including the Society’s Award in Pure Chemistry in 1976, the Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award in 1989 and 1995, and the James Flack Norris Award in Physical Organic Chemistry in 1994.

Whitesides was among a select group of researchers in 1998 to receive the National Medal of Science—the nation’s premier scientific honor— “for his revolutionary discoveries in several fields of chemistry and more recently, notable advances in the fabrication of ultra small structures.” Recently he was presented the Von Hippel Award, conferred annually by the Materials Research Society and the Pittsburgh Analytical Chemistry Award, the highest honor awarded among analytical chemists in the U.S.

A member of the National Academy of Science, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society, Whitesides is a Foreign Fellow of the Indian National Sciences Academy and an Honorary Fellow of the Chemical Research Society of India. His scientific papers have appeared in every major research journal including Nature and Science magazines.

Whitesides’s visit to the Haverford campus was part of a three-day celebration, signaling the completion of the College’s new $39.8 million science center, named in memory of a prestigious immunologist and former member of the College’s board, who died in 1997. Among the research currently being conducted in the new facility by both faculty and students is a five-year project in nanoscience. Supported by a $966,020 grant from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation in Los Altos, Calif., a team of Haverford scientists is working on the design of protein-based biomaterials which have enormous implications for biotechnology.

Founders Green on a warm spring day.

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