Chemistry Symposium at Yale University Will Honor Emeritus Professor Kenneth Wiberg

A symposium in honor of Kenneth B. Wiberg, the Eugene Higgins Professor Emeritus of Chemistry at Yale University, will be held Friday and Saturday, Oct. 3-4, in the Sterling Chemistry Laboratory, 225 Prospect St. The event, which is open to the public, will recognize Professor Wiberg’s contributions to physical-organic chemistry, as well as to Yale and the chemistry department.

Professor Wiberg’s impact on the field of physical-organic chemistry includes playing a key role in applying molecular-orbital computational methods towards the understanding of bonding, reactivity and spectral properties of organic molecules, says J. Michael McBride, professor of chemistry.

“Professor Wiberg’s research has brought a wide range of new techniques to bear on questions concerning the structure and reactivity of organic molecules,” Professor McBride adds. “His synthetic, spectroscopic and mechanistic studies of highly strained small-ring compounds have helped illuminate the nature of the chemical bond.” Professor Wiberg’s current research not only continues his previous work, but “extends it to studies of solvent effects on chemical processes and of the physical origin of NMR chemical shifts,” notes Professor McBride.

Professor Wiberg holds a bachelor’s degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a doctorate from Columbia University. He served on the University of Washington faculty before coming to Yale in 1962, where he was chair of the chemistry department 1968-71.

A member of the National Academy of Sciences NAS and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Professor Wiberg chaired NAS committees on chemistry and on chemistry and federal policy, and helped launch the National Center for Computation in Chemistry. He has served on the editorial boards of numerous journals focusing on the latest developments in the field of chemistry. His many awards include the James Flack Norris Award in Physical Organic Chemistry, the Arthur C. Cope Award and the Pauling Award.

Friday’s events will consist of short scientific presentations by doctoral and postdoctoral alumni of Professor Wiberg’s research group, more than 40 of whom will attend the symposium. Saturday’s session will begin at 9 a.m. in room 110 SCL with a welcome by Donald M. Crothers, the Alfred E. Kemp Professor of Chemistry and chair of the chemistry department.

Following the welcome, presentations lasting about 40 minutes each will be made by Professor McBride and Yale chemistry professors Martin Saunders, William L. Jorgensen and Jerome A. Berson. Topics will include “AFM Study of Molecular Recognition at Crystal Surfaces,” “Noble Gas Atoms Inside Fullerenes,” “What is This Thing Called Spin, This Funny Thing Called Spin?” and “Molecular Recognition from Alkane Dimers to Protein-ligand Complexes.”

After a lunch break, the symposium will resume at 1:30 p.m. Speakers during the afternoon session will be Peter Chen of Zurich; Paul von R. Schleyer of Erlangen/Nurnberg; and Andrew Streitwieser of the University of California, Berkeley. Presentation topics will be “From Carbenes and Biradicals to Drug Design and Catalysis,” “What Aromaticity Is” and “The Reactivity of Alkali Enolates and Aggregates.” For more information, call 432-3912.

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