Professor John E. Bercaw
Professor John E. Bercaw

2015 Habermann Lecture

The Department of Chemistry is pleased to announce that this year's Habermann Lecture will be given by Prof. John E. Bercaw, Centennial Professor of Chemistry at the California Institute of Technology. The lecture, "Light Hydrocarbon Upgrading to Fuels and Chemicals: Progress towards Homogeneous Catalysts," will be held on Friday, May 1, 2015.

John Bercaw received his B.S. degree from North Carolina State University in 1967, his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in 1971, then undertook postdoctoral research at the University of Chicago. He joined the faculty at the California Institute of Technology as an Arthur Amos Noyes Research Fellow in 1972, and in 1974 he joined the professorial ranks, becoming Professor of Chemistry in 1979. From 1985 to 1990 he was the Shell Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, and in 1993 he was named Centennial Professor of Chemistry. Dr. Bercaw has been a Seaborg Scholar at Los Alamos National Laboratory (2004), the Robert Burns Woodward Visiting Professor at Harvard University (1999), The George F. Baker Lecturer at Cornell University (1993), Visiting Miller Professor at the University of California, Berkeley (1990), and a Royal Society of Chemistry Guest Research Fellow at Oxford University (1989-1990). From 2009-2012 he was also KFUPM Visiting Chair Professor at King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals. He has served on numerous panels for the Department of Energy and the National Research Council, and beginning in 1999 has been a member of the Science and Technology Committees for national weapons laboratories: Los Alamos National Security and Lawrence Livermore National Security.

Prof. Bercaw is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (1986), a member of the National Academy of Sciences (1990), a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1991), and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Science from the University of Chicago in 2001. He has received the American Chemical Society awards in Pure Chemistry (1980), for Organometallic Chemistry (1990), for Distinguished Service in the Advancement of Inorganic Chemistry (1997), the George A. Olah Award for Hydrocarbon or Petroleum Chemistry (1999), and an Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award (2000). He held the Sir Edward Frankland Prize Lectureship of the Royal Society of Chemistry in 1992, received the Basolo Medal (Northwestern, 2005), the Bailar Medal (University of Illinois, 2003), and the Tolman Medal (Southern California Section of the ACS, 2013).

His research interests are in synthetic, structural and mechanistic organotransition metal chemistry. Investigations include catalysts for polymerization of olefins, investigations of hydrocarbon hydroxylation with transition metal complexes, and the development of catalysts for syngas and light alkane conversions to chemicals and fuels. He has published almost 300 peer-reviewed scientific articles.


Eugene Habermann was born and raised in the city of Milwaukee, not far from Marquette University. He served in the Army during World War II and then attended Marquette University under the GI bill, receiving a BS degree in business administration in 1958, while working full-time as a time-study analyst at Briggs & Stratton. Mr. Habermann never married and lived with other members of his family. He was described as a "jovial, pleasant man, with a good sense of humor." A relative, noting his frugality, stated, "He was a sharp investor. It wasn't a hobby for him."

Mr. Habermann admired chemists who were well-trained and knew their art and thus established the Habermann-Pfletschinger Chair in Chemistry at Marquette University in honor of his parents.

The Habermann Lecture series is to perpetuate the memory of Eugene Habermann and to recognize his generosity and support of Marquette University and our chemistry department.

Previous Habermann Lecturers


Klingler College of Arts & Sciences

Explore Your Future...
As Marquette's largest college, we offer an alphabet soup of majors that truly represent the intellectual heart of the university, with courses in the humanities, natural sciences and social sciences.