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Nobel Prize-winning chemist to give Bernstein Lectures

September 22, 2009 By Kiera Wiatrak

Renowned chemist Ahmed Zewail will give two lectures as part of the Richard B. Bernstein Lectures in Chemistry on Monday, Sept. 28, and Tuesday, Sept. 29.

Zewail, the 1999 Nobel laureate in chemistry and a current member of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, will give his Monday lecture, “Time and Matter-Bernstein’s Vision,” at 3:30 p.m. and his Tuesday lecture, “Exploring at the Interface of Physical and Biological Sciences,” at 11 a.m.

Both hourlong lectures will take place in Room 1315 of the Chemistry Building, 1101 University Ave.

“You’re going to hear somebody who has really pioneered certain ways of investigating matter talk about his philosophy of science and approach to science,” says chemistry professor F. Fleming Crim.

The lectures are free and open to the public, though Crim notes that the first lecture will be more accessible to the public, while the second will be more enjoyable if guests have a chemistry background. He adds that the Tuesday lecture will be set up as more of a discussion, allowing graduate students to engage in conversation with Zewail.

The Bernstein Lectures in Chemistry were established last year in honor of Richard “Dick” Bernstein, who was a beloved UW–Madison chemistry professor between 1963 and 1973 and a leader in physical chemistry with legendary contributions to molecular beam scattering. He died in 1990.

Zewail, a Linus Pauling professor of chemistry, professor of physics and director of the Physical Biology Center for Ultrafast Science and Technology at the California Institute of Technology, was an associate and friend of Bernstein while Bernstein was a professor at the University of California-Los Angeles.

Though this will be the second Bernstein Lecture this year, the lectures will continue on an annual basis. Crim says in addition to their scientific achievements, Zewail, as well as April’s Bernstein lecturer, Hebrew University professor Raphael Levine, were chosen because of their associations with Bernstein.