Prof. Marsha I. Lester 
Professor Marsha I. Lester

Prof. Kazuo Nakamoto
Professor Kazuo Nakamoto (1922-2011)

2016 Nakamoto Lecture

The Department of Chemistry is pleased to announce that this year's Nakamoto Lecture will be given by Professor Marsha I. Lester, University of Pennsylvania. The lecture, "A New View on Tropospheric Chemistry of Alkenes," will be held at 4 pm on Friday, January 22, 2016. POSTPONED: The lecture will be rescheduled.

Marsha I. Lester has risen through the academic ranks at University of Pennsylvania, where she is currently the Edmund J. Kahn Distinguished Professor in the Department of Chemistry of the School of Arts & Sciences. She completed a four-year term as Chair of the Department of Chemistry in 2009. Lester has received many honors and awards, including her election to Fellowship in the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, the Garvan-Olin Medal of the American Chemical Society, the Bourke Lectureship of the Faraday Division of the Royal Society of Chemistry, a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Chemical Society, and the American Physical Society, an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship, and the Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award.

In 2008, Lester was appointed Editor of The Journal of Chemical Physics, the preeminent journal in her field. In the past six years, she has reinvigorated the Journal with numerous initiatives to attract more of the best papers in the broadly defined field of chemical physics. Lester has consistently devoted a substantial amount of her time to scientific service activities. She has served on the NRC Commission on Physical Sciences, Mathematics, and Applications as well as its Board on Chemical Sciences and Technology. She has been engaged in activities of the American Chemical Society, the American Physical Society, the National Science Foundation, and the Department of Energy. She is also a founding member of the Penn Forum for Women Faculty

Lester’s research group has developed innovative methods for stabilizing 'entrance channel complexes' and reaction intermediates of environmental significance. Her group has employed novel spectroscopic methods to rigorously characterize these important, yet previously uncharted, regions of chemical reaction pathways.


Kazuo Nakamoto was born in Kobe, Japan. He received his B.S. and D.Sc. from Osaka University and remained at Osaka as a member of the faculty for an additional four years, except for the two years which he spent at Iowa State University working in the laboratory of Robert E. Rundle as a Fulbright Scholar. In 1958 he joined the faculty at Clark University, moving to Illinois Institute of Technology in 1961 and in 1969 he became the first Wehr Professor of Chemistry at Marquette University.

Professor Nakamoto directed the research of more than 85 graduate students and postdoctoral associates and published more than 210 papers and 15 review articles. He was a pioneer in the use of metal isotopes to elucidate the involvement of metals in low frequency vibrations in metallic complexes, a discovery that helped fuel the rapid growth in the developing field of bioinorganic chemistry. He then turned his attention to biological problems and began a vigorous research program dealing with heme-related compounds. He was also amongst the first to use matrix isolation techniques to prepare and characterize unstable species, including the biologically relevant ferryl heme complexes, an important intermediate in many oxidative heme enzymes. His interest also included DNA and the process of intercalation. Using oligonucleotides synthesized to include specific sequences, he established criteria that can be used to deduce the site specificity of these compounds. He was able to differentiate between exterior (groove) binding and interior (intercalation) binding through careful vibrational analysis.

In keeping with his life-long interest in communicating the excitement of science, he authored several influential texts in the field of spectroscopy, including his very famous 2-volume work on Infrared and Raman Spectra of Inorganic and Coordination Compounds, the sixth edition of which was issued in 2009, and in 2008 coauthored a new book entitled Drug-DNA Interactions: Structures and Spectra. Remarkably, his passion for science and dedication to accomplishment were clearly manifested, even up to the final weeks of his life, as he was continually pondering new points to include in planned future editions of his books. In spite of his great scientific success, he remained a genuinely modest man who will long be missed by the many of us who knew and admired him.

Previous Nakamoto Lecturers


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