Chemistry lecture brings in renowned professor

GVL / Courtesy -
Professor Wilson Ho

GVL / Courtesy – Professor Wilson Ho

Constance Turnbull

Professor Wilson Ho will be the featured speaker at this semester’s Arnold C. Ott Lectureship in Chemistry at Grand Valley State University. The lecture, called “Visualization of Chemistry: Seeing is Believing,” will take place at on Thursday, April 16 at 6 p.m. in the Pew Campus Loosemore Auditorium.

Ho, a professor of chemistry, physics and astronomy, is currently the Donald Bren Professor of Physics and Astronomy at the University of California, Irvine. Ho is renowned for his development of a two-story-high scanning tunneling microscope to investigate single molecules. Ho spent a year on the AT&T Bell Laboratories technical staff, while being on the faculty of Cornell University, before joining UC Irvine in 2000.

Although Ho has an impressive resume, he attributes his accomplishments to his team.

“It’s a privilege to work with students and post-docs who have done much to the work to merit this recognition,” he told UC Irvine news. “We hope to see more opportunities that will allow us to expand our research. We like to build instruments that allow us to carry out new experiments in the cross disciplinary areas of chemistry and physics.”

Dr. Felix Ngassa, chair of the communications committee, said Ho was chosen for his creativity in scientific research, as well as his drive and ambition to find answers.

“His expertise ranges from surface chemistry and physics to nano-science, single molecule spectroscopy and imaging, scanning tunneling microscopy and instrumentation development,” Ngassa said.

The Arnold C. Ott Lectureship in Chemistry was created by Dr. Arnold Ott and his wife Marion to bring national recognition to the GVSU chemistry department. Ott lecturers are recognized in their field as leaders and idealists, and the lectures are intended to provide GVSU chemistry faculty and students with ideas and motivation.

Dr. Ott passed away in 2008, but the Arnold C. Ott Lectureship in Chemistry remains a biannual event that carries on his legacy, and his family remains strongly supportive of all that the lectureship does for the university.

Speakers at the Arnold C. Ott Lectureship for Chemistry are chosen by the members of the chemistry department communications committee. Every chemistry faculty has an input in the selection process, the names are ranked by the committee and then a shortlist is submitted to the Ott steering committee – the family of the late Dr. Ott. Once the committee hears back from these two, it extends an invitation to potential lecturers.

Although the event is mostly directed at GVSU chemistry faculty and students, any interested students are welcome to attend. Ngassa said the event exposes students to “high-profile scientific minds.”

“The Ott lectures offer an excellent opportunity for our GVSU students to be exposed to cutting-edge research, in chemistry in particular and science in general,” Ngassa said. “Not many of our peer institutions can boast of the quality of speakers we have brought to GVSU thanks to the Ott Lectures.

“To me, anything that adds value to the education of our students at Grand Valley is of utmost importance. Personally, I am looking forward to meeting with professor Ho and hoping that our many undergraduate students involved in research can be inspired by his many accomplishments.”

The event is hosted by the chemistry department community committee in collaboration with the chair of the chemistry department, professor George McBane; the department secretary, Janet VanRhee; and the University Development Office.

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