GV welcomes award-winning chemist to campus

Arnold C. Ott

GVL / GVNow Arnold C. Ott

Allison Ribick

Anyone interested in chemistry, specifically self-healing polymers, will get the chance to see Jeffrey Moore speak tonight at 6 p.m. in the Grand River Room in the Kirkhof Center at Grand Valley State University. Moore’s lecture is part of the Arnold C. Ott Lectureship in Chemistry series.

Moore is a professor of materials science and engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is in charge of the Moore Group, which researches ways to make materials safer and last longer. He is an award-winning chemist, has published over 300 articles and served as an associate editor for the Journal of American Chemical Society for 14 years.

He is most known for his work on interesting properties of solid materials, such as self-healing. In response to the damage of a material, or polymers such as plastic and rubber, the material will start to repair itself.

“For example, an automobile tire that will regrow new rubber to cover a hole if a hole gets punched in,” explained George McBane, chemistry professor and chair of the chemistry department at GVSU.

The Arnold C. Ott Lectureship series was established in 2001 by Ott, who was a co-founder of GVSU. Ott received his doctoral degree from Michigan State University and was greatly involved in chemical companies, even founding his own. He was a significant member of the community, as he was a local employer, and held various positions on the Board of Control for GVSU.

“He was a big believer in the ability of science in general, and in chemistry in particular, to better people’s lives,” McBane said. “That’s part of why he founded the lecture series, to try and give people in West Michigan an appreciation of high quality science.”

Ott passed away in 2008, but his series and his other contributions, such as the Ott-Steiner Fellowship Chemistry and Natural Sciences which provides assistance for students conducting research over the summer, continue on.

Jackie Stiner, Ott’s daughter, and her husband Les Stiner continue to fund this program and have pledged they will match the donations to the fellowship through Nov. 7. They will also be in attendance at the lecture tonight.

Once a semester, the lectureship brings scientific individuals from around the world to GVSU’s campus. Past lectures include Nobel Laureate Ada Yonath, known for her work on the structure and function of the ribosome, and Roderick MacKinnon, for his work on the structure and operation of ion channels.

“Science is all connected, and it’s good for students to see that connection between different science disciplines,” said Felix Ngassa, GVSU professor of chemistry and chair of the communications committee in chemistry.

Ngassa expressed his excitement for Moore’s arrival to GVSU after hearing the high praise individuals in the chemistry community gave Moore when Ngassa attended the National American Chemical Society meeting in San Francisco.

“It’s a great thing for students to be able to see somebody of that level of expertise that you don’t see every day around here,” Ngassa said.

The reception begins at 5 p.m. tonight in the Grand River Room. This is a chance for individuals to speak one-on-one with Moore before the lecture, which starts at 6 p.m. Following the lecture, a question and answer session will allow attendants to ask Moore further questions.

Tomorrow at 1 p.m. in the Pere Marquette Room at the Kirkhof Center, Moore will host a seminar on “Polymer Mechanochemistry and the Concept of the Mechanophore.” The seminar will be more technical and geared toward students with a chemistry background or major. GVSU’s President Thomas Haas will be in attendance to introduce Moore.