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posted May 13, 1998

Three Chemists Honored

Three Berkeley scientists were honored at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society, held March 31 in Dallas. They are professors of chemistry Alexander Pines and Graham Fleming, and postdoctoral fellow Jaqueline Kiplinger.

Alexander Pines received the 1998 Irving Langmuir Award in Chemical Phy-sics for his pioneering efforts in discerning the types of atoms that make up a solid compound, such as a protein, and how they are arranged.

Pines has developed techniques to analyze solid materials. One such tool is nuclear magnetic resonance, whose best known application is as a medical diagnostic imagining technique. Over the last two decades, Pines has worked to make NMR more sensitive and versatile, expanding its useful applications for the study of materials such as semiconductors, plastics, catalysts and proteins.

Graham Fleming received the Society’s 1998 Peter Debye Award in Physical Chemistry for his efforts to decipher the ultrafast events that make up photosynthesis and other chemical reactions.

In Fleming’s campus lab, time is measured in millionths of a second, or femtoseconds, the speed with which chlorophyll molecules in plants can convert sunlight to chemical energy.

“What I do is develop methods to make measurements on this time-scale, and to interpret the data we get out,” Fleming said.

With a complete understanding of photosynthesis, “creating artificial photosynthesis should become possible,” Fleming said. “It’s expensive to fill acres of fields with solar cells. Imagine instead using cheaper organic materials, like plants.”

Jacqueline Kiplinger received the society’s 1998 Nobel Laureate Signature Award for Graduate Education in Chemistry for developing the first process that may selectively convert fluorine-full compounds – perhaps even ozone-damaging CFCs – into more useful, benign molecules for pharmaceuticals, plastics and other products.

Compounds such as Teflon and CFCs – whose binding sites are nearly saturated with fluorine, or perifluorinated – are among the most stable and unreactive man-made substances.

“The big thing that everyone is excited about is the fact that I could actually break into the carbon-fluorine bond and make it a carbon-carbon or a carbon-hydrogen bond,” she said.

Roger Hahn

Professor Roger Hahn was recently named Officier dans l’Ordre des Palmes Acadé-miques by the French Government, for his promotion of French culture in the United States. During his 37 years as a history department faculty member, he has been instrumental in exchange programs with France and written a classic study of the history of the French Academy of Sciences.

Hahn has served the Berkeley campus as co-director of French Cultural Studies and as chair of the selection committee for the France-Berkeley Fund. In France he has held appointments at the Collège de France, the Sorbonne and the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales.

The honor will be bestowed at the Faculty Club May 19 by the French Consul of San Francisco.

Philosophical Society Elects Three from Berkeley

Three Berkeley faculty were elected members of the American Philosophical Society at its annual meeting last month. They are Patrick V. Kirch, professor of anthropology; Richard Taruskin, professor of music; and Frederic Wakeman Jr., Haas Professor of Asian Studies and director of the Institute of East Asian Studies.

Founded by Ben Franklin in 1743, the American Philosophical Society is the oldest learned society in the United States. There are currently 666 resident members and 139 foreign members.

Bertozzi, Pruitt Win Naval Research Awards

Carolyn Bertozzi, professor of chemistry, and Lisa Pruitt, associate professor of mechanical engineering, have been awarded Young Investigator awards from the U.S. Office of Naval Research. They were among 19 scientists selected from a field of 214.

Bertozzi’s research, on developing cell surface engineering technology, may allow the Navy to develop cell-based sensing devices for detecting chemical and biological agents and other toxics.

Pruitt’s work targets the development and use of low-temperature ion beam and plasma technology for surface engineering of advanced polymeric materials.

The Young Investigator Program provides recipients, through their institutions, with up to $100,000 per year for three years. Winners are selected for professional achieve-ment, creative proposals and evidence of strong support by their universities.

John Ogbu

John Ogbu, professor of anthropology, has been honored recently by both the American Educational Research Association and the International Academy of Education.

The American Educational Research Association named Ogbu for its 1998 award for distinguished contributions to research in education.

Ogbu received an award plaque and $1,000 at the association’s annual meeting April 15 in San Diego.

Last year Ogbu was elected a member of the International Academy of Education.

Headquartered in Brussels, the academy synthesizes education research from around the world to make it more readily applicable by educators and policy makers, and it recognizes scholars whose work transcends their countries of origin and traditional scholarly disciplines. The academy has 10 current members and plans to expand to 100 within the next few years.

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