Nobel Laureate in Chemistry Will Deliver Eleventh Annual Shipley Lectures

Article ID: 510711

Released: 28-Mar-2005 8:00 AM EST

Source Newsroom: Clarkson University

[A photo of John B. Fenn for newspaper use is available at]

John B. Fenn, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, member of the National Science Foundation, and research professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, will present two lectures at Clarkson University on Monday, April 4, and Tuesday, April 5. The talks are part of the University's annual Shipley Distinguished Lecture Series and are open to the public.

Dr. Fenn received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2002 for his invention of a pioneering technique that allows researchers to "weigh" large biological molecules, such as proteins, enzymes and DNA with unprecedented accuracy. Fenn's research has revolutionized work in proteomics, pharmaceuticals and medicine. The technique, called electrospray ionization mass spectrometry, is used in chemistry laboratories around the world to rapidly and simply reveal what proteins a sample contains, thereby contributing to the development of new pharmaceuticals.

Fenn's first presentation, "Electrospray Wings for Molecular Elephants," focuses on the research that earned him the Nobel Prize. The presentation will be April 4 at 4:15 p.m. in room 360 of the Cora and Bayard Clarkson Science Center. A reception will precede the presentation at 3:30 p.m. Fenn describes his lecture as a travelogue, stating: "Small effusive leaks into vacuum systems, as in Knudson cells and classical molecular beam machines, made many contributions to science in the twentieth century. They continue to serve both science and technology. Beginning in the 1950s, big convective leaks have turned out to be even more powerful and versatile tools. The supersonic free jets produced by these big leaks have greatly extended molecular beam methods, become a cornerstone of cluster science and technology, and rewritten the book on molecular spectroscopy."

Dr. Fenn will present a second lecture on Tuesday, April 5, at 11 a.m. in Bertrand H. Snell Hall, room 213, titled "Science for Shekels " Salvation or Seduction." This lecture will look at the problems and benefits that have resulted from the increasing role the federal government has assumed in financing R&D at colleges and universities. Prior to WWII, university research in science and engineering was financed primarily by wealthy individuals and private foundations. The economic equation changed after the war because the federal government recognized that such new technologies as radar, jet propulsion, and drug development emerged from university laboratories and, therefore, initiated investing large expenditures for R&D in academic institutions. Fenn will explore how this infusion of federal dollars has resulted in a mixed bag of profits and problems for higher education institutions. This discourse will be combined with a panel discussion with Clarkson faculty members from various departments, monitored by Provost Thomas Young.

Fenn received a B.A. in chemistry from Berea College in 1937 and a Ph.D. from Yale in 1940. His industrial background includes positions in process development at Monsanto Company and Sharples Chemical and he also worked for a firm specializing in combustion engines. In 1959, Dr. Fenn was named director of project SQUID, a U.S. Navy program of basic and applied research in jet propulsion administered by Princeton University, where he became a professor of aerospace and mechanical sciences. He has also served as a visiting professor at Trento University, Italy; the University of Tokyo; the Indian Institute of Science at Bangalore; and the Chinese Academy of Science in Beijing, and as a distinguished lecturer at numereous institutions. He has authored one book and more than 100 papers and is sole or co-inventor of 19 patents.

John Fenn's lectures are co-sponsored by Clarkson's Center for Advanced Materials Processing and the School of Arts and Sciences. The Shipley Distinguished Lecture Series was initiated in 1994 through a generous gift from Charles and Lucia Shipley through the Shipley Family Foundation. The purpose of the lecture series is to promote scholarly achievements at Clarkson by providing the opportunity for idea exchange and active learning, as well as exposing undergraduate and graduate students to the most prestigious speakers from all over the world. These lectures are organized by Professor Egon Matijevic´, who can be contacted for additional information at 315-268-2392.

PHOTO CAPTION: Clarkson University's 11th annual Shipley Distinguished Lectureship will feature John B. Fenn, recipient of the 2002 Nobel Prize for Chemistry. Dr. Fenn will make presentations on April 4 and April 5. The public is invited to attend.


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