Chemistry lectures taking place on campus

GVL / Courtesy -

GVL / Courtesy –

Ita Tsai

The Arnold C. Ott Lectureship in Chemistry series of presentations is returning to Grand Valley State University. The first lecture, titled “Chemical Reactions: What Lies Under the Arrow?” will take place Thursday, April 12, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Devos Center Loosemore Auditorium.  

The next lecture, “Studies of Radicals, Catalytic Intermediates and Transition States by Slow Electron Velocity-Map Imaging of Cryogenically Cooled Anions,” will be held Friday, April 13, at 1 p.m. in the Kirkhof Center Pere Marquette Room.

The lecture this year will be given by Daniel Neumark, professor at the University of Califorina, Berkeley. Neumark earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Harvard University in physical chemistry. His research interests include physical chemistry, molecular structure and dynamics. In the lecture, Neumark will talk about fundamental problems in chemical physics, such as reaction dynamics, cluster spectroscopy and ultrafast x-ray science.

“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,” said Felix Ngassa, GVSU professor of chemistry. “Not many of our peer institutions can boast of the quality of speakers we have brought to GVSU thanks to the Ott lectures. 

“In the past 10 years, we have had two Nobel laureates in chemistry present as Ott lecturers. … GVSU students may not be exposed to such high-profile scientific minds if not due to the opportunity provided by the late Dr. Ott and his wife, Marion.”

Every year, a group of select lecturers from the Chemistry Department Communications Committee request names from all of the chemistry faculty to potentially select them as Ott lecturers. The committee is comprised of Ngassa and chemistry professors Andrew Korich, Dave Leonard and Steve Matchett. 

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

This lectureship was founded by Ott and his wife to bring national recognition to the GVSU chemistry department. 

Ott received his Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry, physics and math from Central Michigan University and earned his Ph.D. in chemistry, physics and bacteriology from Michigan State University in 1943. 

Working with his longtime associate William Seidman, Ott played a role in the founding of GVSU back in the early 1960s. He was a charter member of the University Board of Directors and served in that capacity for 28 years. Ott passed away in 2008.  

“This scholarship was left as a legacy of his commitment to quality education and his love of the chemical sciences,” Ngassa said.