William N. Lipscomb Centennial Celebration

10/24/2019 - 1:00pm to 5:00pm
W.T. Young Library Auditorium
Speaker(s) / Presenter(s): 
Prof. Marjorie Senechal, Prof. Irving Epstein, Prof. Doug Rees
Type of Event (for grouping events):

During the afternoon of October 24, 2019 the Chemistry Department will celebrate the 100th birthday (on December 9) of William Nunn Lipscomb, Jr., who is perhaps our most illustrious graduate.  Lipscomb grew up in Lexington, graduated in 1941 from the University of Kentucky with a major in chemistry, and earned his Ph.D. from CalTech in 1946, where his mentor was Linus Pauling.  After 13 years as a faculty member at the University of Minnesota Lipscomb was hired away in 1959 by Harvard University.  In 1976 Lipscomb was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work on the structures and bonding of boranes, which are compounds composed of boron and hydrogen atoms.  Later Lipscomb was equally well known for his pioneering studies of atomic-level structures of enzymes.

The celebration promises to be interesting and fun.  There will be three speakers:  Marjorie Wikler Senechal is a Lexington native who took piano lessons from Lipscomb’s sister and remained close to the family.  She is Professor Emerita in Mathematics and History of Science and Technology at Smith College.  The other two speakers earned their Ph.D. degrees at Harvard under Lipscomb’s direction.  Irving R. Epstein, a professor at Brandeis University, will talk about Lipscomb's experimental and computational studies of boron compounds.  Douglas C. Rees, a Lexington native who is now a professor at CalTech, will discuss Lipscomb’s biochemical work.  All three will include anecdotes about Lipscomb, who was known to all as The Colonel, who made a YouTube video about how to tie a string tie (which had become his trademark), and who regularly found ways to slip amusing bits into his scientific papers.

The celebration, which will take place from 1-5 PM at the W. T. Young Library Auditorium, will be open to the public. 


For a detailed schedule and information about the speakers, click here.


For information related to parking, please refer to the Transportation Services website at https://www.uky.edu/transportation/