Chemist Ahmed H. Zewail of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) will come to campus on Thursday, Nov. 21, both to be feted and to speak.
The chemistry department and the New Haven Section of the American Chemical Society will present the 1996 Kirkwood Medal to Professor Zewail in recognition of his "pioneering work in chemical dynamics." Named for the late John Gamble Kirkwood, Sterling Professor of Chemistry and chair of Yale's chemistry department, the award is presented biennially for "outstanding contributions to the field of chemistry."
Professor Zewail, who holds the Linus Pauling chair in chemistry and is professor of physics at Caltech, has led the way in applying time-resolved methods to the characterization and elucidation of chemical transformations. His research has opened new vistas in chemistry, including the field of Femtochemistry, whereby the motions of atoms can be viewed in real time as chemical bonds are formed and broken. This work has application to the understanding of the transition state, described as one of the "most pervasive, yet elusive, concepts in the realm of molecular science." Professor Zewail has been credited with profoundly altering the way that chemists and biologists think about the dynamical processes giving rise to a chemical reaction.
During his visit to Yale, Professor Zewail will present the Kirkwood Lecture, titled "Femtochemistry and Femtobiology: Ending the Time Race," at 4 p.m. in Rm. 110, Sterling Chemistry Laboratory, 225 Prospect St. The lecture, which is free and open to the public, will be preceded by coffee and refreshments at 3:30 p.m. Following the lecture, Professor Zewail will be the guest of honor at a banquet, where he will be presented with the Kirkwood Medal.