Chemistry department brings in renowned chemist

Ellie Phillips

Renowned chemist W. Carl Lineberger, who studies the application of lasers to problems in chemical physics, will speak Tuesday and Wednesday at the Grand Valley State University Arnold C. Ott Lectureship in Chemistry.

“This is a great opportunity for GV students to listen to a great scientist who has been involved in policy issues at the level of Washington, D.C.,” said Felix Ngassa, chair of the chemistry department’s Communications Committee.

In 2011, Lineberger was nominated by President Obama for membership on the National Science Board, where he currently serves as a member of the Executive Committee and chair of the Subcommittee on Facilities.

Ngassa is in charge of planning the events leading up to the lecture and ensuring the lecture’s success. To him, the opportunities that will be available for his students at the lecture are the most important part of the event.

“Carl is very resourceful and a great scientist, so it is an honor to host him at GVSU,” Ngassa said. “And anything that adds value to the education of our students is of utmost importance to me. (It’s an) excellent opportunity for our GVSU students (to start) networking with a fellow scientist, and especially someone who has been involved with important policy issues related to science in Washington, D.C.”

Lineberger is also a member of the Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics and an E.U. Condon Distinguished Professor of Chemistry at the University of Colorado in Boulder. The E. U. Condon is annually awarded by the National Institute of Standards and Technology and recognizes distinguished achievements in written exposition in science and technology.

George McBane, chair of the chemistry department, said Lineberger’s accomplishments make him a great role model for students.

“I’m interested in showing our students a broad variety of chemistry, and I would like to show it to them as well as I can,” he said. “The thing that’s key is to realize that here’s somebody who has been very successful as a physical scientist, and an influential scientist who has now gone from that position to helping to make much broader decisions for our country to handle its scientific and engineering enterprise.”

Lineberger has won many awards including the H. P. Broida Prize in Chemical Physics, the Earl K. Plyler Prize from the American Physical Society, the Bomem-Michelson Prize, and the William F. Meggers Prize from the Optical Society of America.

He has also served on a number of other committees including the National Science Foundation’s Advisory Committee for Mathematical and Physical Sciences; the National Research Council Commission on Physical Sciences, Mathematics and Applications; and the Department of Energy Basic Energy Sciences Advisory Committee.

The lectureship series was named after Arnold C. Ott, who passed away in 2008. He had a long career as an entrepreneur and businessman in West Michigan and worked at the Ott Chemical Company of Muskegon. Ott also worked with William Seidman and was significantly involved in the founding of GVSU in the early 1960s as a charter member of the University Board of Directors—a position he held for 28 years.

Ott and his wife, Marion, created the lectureship to bring national attention to the GVSU chemistry department. Lecturers chosen are recognized as leaders and visionaries in their field.

Tuesday’s lecture, “Negative Ion Chemistry Research: How it Led to ‘A Positive Look Into Science and Technology Policy,’” will start at 6 p.m. in the Grand River Room of the Kirkhof Center. There will also be a reception at 5 p.m.

A seminar for students and faculty will be held at 1 p.m. Wednesday in the Cook-DeWitt Center, where Lineberger will discuss “Molecular Reaction Dynamics in Time and Frequency Domains: A Wonderful Playground for Collaboration between Experiment and Theory.”

The lectureship is free and open to the public.

For more information, visit—94.htm.