Chemistry Lecture Series

For decades, the department has hosted a variety of named lectureships featuring some of the top researchers in chemistry. These lecture series attract distinguished academics from around the world. To find out more about each lecture series, including previous invitees, visit the links below:

Boehringer Ingelheim Lecture

The Boehringer Ingelheim Lectures in Chemistry were established through the generosity of Boehringer Ingelheim, based in Laval, Québec. This lectureship allows the department to present the lectures of distinguished scientists who have made pioneering contributions to chemistry.

  • Past Lecturers
    • 2010 Stephen Martin (University of Texas at Austin)
    • 2009 Greg Fu (MIT)
    • 2008 Laura Kiessling (University of Wisconsin, Madison)
    • 2007 Samuel Gellman (University of Wisconsin)
    • 2006 Scott Miller (Boston College)
    • 2005 William Roush (Scripps Institute)
    • 2004 Andrew Myers (Harvard University)
    • 2003 Hisashi Yamamoto (University of Chicago)
    • 2002 François Diederich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology)
    • 2001 Jeffrey Moore (University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign)
    • 2000 Ian Scott (Texas A&M)
    • 1999 Paul Bartlett (University of California, Berkeley)
    • 1998 J. Fraser Stoddart (UCLA)
    • 1997 Dennis Curran (University of Pittsburgh)

Edward Herbert Boomer Memorial Lecture

This lecture series was established in 1959 as a memorial to Professor Edward Herbert Boomer (1900-1945), a member of the department's faculty from 1925 to 1945. Each year, a series of lectures is given by a distinguished invited speaker.

  • About Dr. Boomer
    Professor of chemical engineering at the University of Alberta from 1925-45, Edward Herbert Boomer was born May 26, 1900 in Vancouver, British Columbia. He earned a BSc (1920) from the University of British Columbia before going on to obtain an MSc (1921) and a PhD (1923) from McGill University. In recognition of his academic achievement, he was awarded a Ramsey Memorial Fellowship (1923-25) by Cambridge University.

    Boomer’s career with the University of Alberta began in 1925 and spanned two decades. His first two years were spent as a lecturer of chemistry. He spent the next five years (1927-32) as an assistant professor of physical chemistry before becoming an associate professor (1932-43) of physical chemistry. In 1943, he was named a professor of physical chemistry and chemical engineering, a role he would carry out for the next two years.

    Boomer’s contributions to the University were not limited to teaching; he was a member of the Faculty Council (1924-25) and of the Senate (1939-41), and he donated his personal library to the University. In recognition of contributions and years of service, the Boomer Lecture Series was named in his honour.

    Boomer was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and of the Chemical Institute of Canada, serving the latter as a councillor. Western Canadian Advisor (1940) of the Allied War Supplies Commission and a member (1945) of the Association of Professional Engineers of Alberta, he was also chairman (1943) of the Alberta Oil and Gas Conservation Board, commissioner of the Natural Gas Utilities Board of Alberta, and a member of the British Oil Commission in Occupied Germany.

    Boomer passed away October 27, 1945 in Edmonton, Alberta. 
  • Past Lecturers
    • 2019 Paul S. Weiss (UCLA)
    • 2014 Harold G. Craighead (Cornell University)
    • 2012 Francis DiSalvo (Cornell University) - presentation (PDF)
    • 2011 Mark Wightman (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)
    • 2009 Richard A. Mathies (Univ. of California, Berkeley)
    • 2007 David Milstein (Weizmann Institute)
    • 2006 Fred E. Regnier (Purdue University)
    • 2004 Robert T. Kennedy (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor)
    • 2003 Thomas E. Mallouk (Penn State University)
    • 2002 Chad A. Mirkin (Northwestern University)
    • 2001 Gregory S. Girolami (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
    • 2000 Ruedi Aebersold (University of Washington)
    • 1998 Robert G. Bergman (University of California, Berkeley)
    • 1997 Alan G. Marshall (Florida State University, Tallahassee)
    • 1996 M. Frederick Hawthorne (UCLA)
    • 1995 Catherine Fenselau (University of Maryland)
    • 1995 Robert J. LeRoy (University of Waterloo)
    • 1994 Stuart A. Rice (University of Chicago)
    • 1993 John E. Bercaw (CalTech)
    • 1992 Robert W. Murray (University of Missouri, St. Louis)
    • 1991 Malcolm L.H. Green (University of Oxford)
    • 1990 James W. Jorgenson (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)
    • 1989 Richard R. Schrock (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
    • 1988 Joel M. Harris (University of Utah)
    • 1987 Tobin J. Marks (Northwestern University)
    • 1986 Gary M. Hieftje (Indiana University)
    • 1985 Jack Halpern (University of Chicago)
    • 1984 R. Graham Cooks (Purdue University)
    • 1983 Roald Hoffmann (Cornell University)
    • 1982 Rudolph A. Marcus (CalTech)
    • 1981 Georges Guiochon (University of Tennessee)
    • 1980 Enrico Clementi (University L. Pasteur, Strasbourg)
    • 1979 Earl L. Muetterties (University of California, Berkeley)
    • 1978 Keith J. Laidler (University of Ottawa)
    • 1977 Wilhelm Simon (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich)
    • 1976 M. Eigen
    • 1975 T.L. Brown

Harry Emmet Gunning Lecture Series

This series of lectures in Physical Chemistry is given each year by an invited guest, in honour of Professor Harry Emmet Gunning (1916-2002), former Chair of the Chemistry Department (1957-1974) and University President (1974-1979).

  • Past Lecturers

    2018 Lecturer

    Professor Frank Neese (Bio)
    Max-Planck-Institut für Kohlenforschung Mülheim an der Ruhr, Germany 
    30 January – 1 February 2018


    Tuesday, 30 January 2018 at 3:00 pm, CCIS L1-140
    “Combining advanced spectroscopy and quantum chemistry to obtain insight into the reactivity of nonheme iron centers”

    Wednesday, 31 January 2018 at 3:00 pm, Chemistry E1-60
    “Ab initio ligand field theory: a powerful tool for understanding the coordination- and magnetochemistry of d and f-block elements”

    Thursday, 1 February 2018 at 3:00 pm, CCIS L1-140
    “Linear scaling local correlation methods for the accurate calculation of large systems: status and perspectives”

    Contact Info: Mariusz Klobukowski

    • 2018 Frank Neese (Max-Planck-Institut fur Kohlenforschung)
    • 2015 Mark A. Johnson (Yale University)
    • 2013 Todd J. Martinez (Stanford University)
    • 2012 Michael Fayer (Stanford University)
    • 2011 Marek Pruski (Iowa State University)
    • 2010 Gerard Meijer (Fritz-Haber Institute)
    • 2009 Geraldine Richmond (University of Oregon)
    • 2008 Martin Gruebele (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign)
    • 2007 Mark S. Gordon (Iowa State University)
    • 2006 Patrick H. Vaccaro (Yale University)
    • 2005 Carol Robinson (University of Cambridge)
    • 2004 Mark A. Ratner (Northwestern University)
    • 2003 Judith P. Klinman (University of California, Berkeley)
    • 2002 Cynthia J. Jameson (University of Illinois, Chicago)
    • 2001 Giacinto Scoles (Princeton University)
    • 2000 Robin M. Hochstrasser (University of Pennsylvania)
    • 1999 Harold Kroto (University of Sussex)
    • 1998 Richard N. Zare (Stanford University)
    • 1997 William L. Jorgensen (Yale University)
    • 1995 Richard J. Saykally (University of California, Berkeley)
    • 1994 Stuart A. Rice (University of Chicago)
    • 1993 Harry B. Gray (California Institute of Technology)
    • 1992 Josef F. Holzwarth (Fritz Haber Institut der Max Planck Gesellschaft)
    • 1991 Graham R. Fleming (University of California, Berkeley)
    • 1990 Henry F. Schaefer III (University of Georgia)
    • 1989 Ahmed H. Zewail (California Institute of Technology)
    • 1988 William Klemperer (Harvard University)
    • 1987 Richard R. Ernst (ETH, Zurich)
    • 1986 James N. Pitts, Jr. (University of California, Riverside)
    • 1985 Kenneth S. Pitzer (University of California, Berkeley)
    • 1984 Peter M. Rentzepis (Bell Laboratories)
    • 1983 Melvin E. Calvin (University of California, Berkeley)

Gilead Lecture Series

The Gilead Lectures are a series of analytical and organic chemistry lectures. Established in 2012 through the generosity of Gilead Alberta ULC, these lectureships allow the department to present the lectures of distinguished contributions to analytical and organic chemistry.

  • Past Analytical Chemistry Lecturers
    • 2016 Robert T. Kennedy (University of Michigan), "The Nanoliter Lab: Droplet microfluidics for sensing and high-throughput screening"
    • 2015 Graham Cooks (Purdue University), "Chemical Synthesis and Reaction Monitoring using Mass Spectrometry"
    • 2014 John Yates (Scripps Research Institute), "Using Advanced Proteomic Technology to Study Neurobiology"
  • Past Organic Chemistry Lecturers
    • 2016 Stephen Buchwald (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), "Part 1: Copper-Catalyzed Hydroamination Processes as a Route to Enantiomerically Enriched Amines. Part 2: A New Method for Bioconjugation"
    • 2015 Donna Blackmond (Scripps Research Institute), "Mechanistic Studies in Asymmetric Organocatalysis: A Novel Paradigm for Stereocontrol"
    • 2014 Brian M. Stoltz (California Institure of Technology), "Complex Natural Products as a Driving Force for Discovery in Organic Chemistry"

Margaret-Ann Armour Lecture Series

The University of Alberta’s Working for Inclusivity in Chemistry group is excited to announce the first student-led speaker series in the Department of Chemistry. This speaker series, named after Dr. Margaret-Ann Armour, aims to celebrate diversity in Chemistry by providing a platform for chemists who do outstanding work both in the lab and in promoting diversity and inclusivity within Chemistry.

  • About Dr. Armour

    Dr. Margaret-Ann Armour received her BSc and MSc from the University of Edinburgh before completing her PhD from the University of Alberta in 1970. She rejoined the Department of Chemistry in 1979, and has served as the Faculty of Science’s premier Associate Dean of Science (Diversity) since 2005. Beyond her contributions to science regarding hazardous chemical management, Dr. Armour has been a tireless advocate for stronger representation of women in STEM. She founded Women in Scholarship, Engineering, Science and Technology (WISEST) at the University of Alberta in 1981, and since its inception, the WISEST programs have reached more than 15,000 participants with 85% of their Summer Research Participants pursuing undergraduate degrees in Science or Engineering. In 2010, Dr. Armour established the Canadian Centre for Women in Science, Engineering, Trades and Technology (WinSETT Centre). As the Associate Dean of Science (Diversity), Dr. Armour developed Project Catalyst, which is aimed at increasing the representation of women in faculty positions in the Faculty of Science. 

    Dr. Armour has received many awards and accolades for research, leadership and outreach activities. She received the McNeil Medal from the Royal Society of Canada in 1994, and a 3M Teaching Fellowship, Canada’s top award for excellence in undergraduate teaching, in 1996. Dr. Armour was named a member of the Order of Canada in 2006. Maclean’s Magazine recognized Dr. Armour as one of Ten Canadians Making a Difference in 2003, and she was twice listed by the Women’s Executive Network as one of the Top 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada. Dr. Armour has also received honorary degrees from her alma mater, the University of Edinburgh, as well as the University of British Columbia, the University of Alberta, the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, MacEwan University, and Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador.

  • Past Lecturers

Merck-Frosst Lecture Series

The Merck-Frosst Lecture series in chemistry was established through the generosity of the Merck-Frosst Centre for Therapeutic Research (Canada), Montreal, Quebec. This lectureship allows the department to present the lectures of distinguished scientists who have made pioneering contributions to organic chemistry.

  • Past Lecturers
    • 2009 Herbert Waldmann (Max Planck Institute)
    • 2008 Stephen Hanessian (University of Montreal)
    • 2007 Timothy M. Swager (MIT)
    • 2006 Edwin Vedejs (University of Michigan)
    • 2005 Steven Zimmerman (University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign)
    • 2004 Alois Furstner (Max-Planck-Institut fur Kohlenforschung)
    • 2003 Eric Anslyn (University of Texas, Austin)
    • 2002 Jean M.J. Fréchet (University of California, Berkeley)
    • 2001 Chaitin Khosla (Stanford University)
    • 2000 Stephen Withers (UBC)
    • 1999 David Crich (University of Illinois, Chicago)
    • 1998 Stephen Lippard (MIT)
    • 1997 Larry Overman (University of California, Irvine)
    • 1996 Hisashi Yamamoto (University of Chicago)

NAEJA Lecture

The NAEJA Lectures in chemistry were established through the generosity of NAEJA Pharmaceutical Inc., Edmonton, Alberta. This lectureship allows the department to present the lectures of distinguished scientists who have made pioneering contributions to organic chemistry.

  • Past Lecturers
    • 2010 Raymond Andersen (University of British Columbia)
    • 2009 David Gin (Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre)
    • 2008 Michael Organ (York University)

Pacific Rim Frontiers in Chemistry

The Pacific Rim Frontiers in Chemistry Lecture was established to bring in world-renowned scientists from Asian institutions who are conducting research at the cutting edge of chemistry. Showcasing the major research efforts ongoing across the Asia Pacific Rim benefits our students and faculty by allowing them to interact directly with leaders in the field. 

Our wish is that this program will not only broaden the international scope of our seminar program, but will also provide opportunities to foster research linkages between our department and Asian institutions.

  • Past Lecturers
    • 2015 Xi Zhang (Tsinghua University, Beijing)
    • 2014 Yunbao Jiang (Xiamen University)
    • 2013 Tahei Tahara (RIKEN, Wako, Japan)
    • 2012 Ling Chen (Chinese Academy of Sciences, Fuzhou)
    • 2012 Minhaeng Cho (Korea University, Seoul)
    • 2012 Toshinori Suzuki (Kyoto University)
    • 2012 Zhiyong Tang (National Center for Nanoscience and Technology, Beijing)
    • 2012 Kazuyuki Tatsumi (Nagoya University)
    • 2011 Yuan-Pern Lee (National Chiao Tung University, Taiwan)

Reuben Benjamin Sandin Lecture Series

This is an annual series which commemorates more than forty years of outstanding service rendered to the University by the late Professor Reuben Sandin as a dedicated scholar and inspiring teacher of Organic Chemistry.

  • About Dr. Sandin

    Reuben Benjamin Sandin, whose active association with the University spanned an incredible 75 years, passed away in Edmonton on the last day of February 1991.

    Sandin was born in Minnesota in 1897, and shortly afterwards his family moved to a homestead in the Usona district of central Alberta. He completed high school in Wetaskiwin and went on to the University in 1913. An extremely shy student, he was inspired to a career in chemistry when he was made to feel at ease by his first chemistry professor.

    The April 1916 graduation issue of Gateway makes reference to Sandin's self-effacement (‘He was so shy that it took us two years to discover his hidden qualities.’) and his brilliance. In the grandiloquent phrasing of which its editors were so fond, the publication reports that ‘...he is indeed the senior of the seniors, for he floats at the top of the class like a foam cap on a billow.’

    The Gateway item finishes, with the observation, ‘He is one man in whom the 'ego' is completely subservient.’ This would remain true for the remainder of his life. When Sandin had the opportunity to receive an honorary degree from the University he was greatly moved, but he turned it down. When the Chemistry Department inaugurated the Reuben Benjamin Sandin Lecture Series, he asked that the name be changed (it wasn't), and he repeated the request almost every time he had occasion to correspond about the Lectures.

    Sandin earned his BA degree in chemistry with high distinction and then completed his master's degree at the U of A in 1919, winning the Governor General's Gold Medal. He went on to the University of Chicago, where he was awarded his PhD in 1924 and won renown and the coveted Sigma Psi key of the honorary scientific fraternity.

    A pioneer in the field of positive halogenorganic chemistry, Sandin was well known and respected throughout his profession, even though he never travelled to professional society meetings. His reputation was spread by his incisive publications (he published his last paper, which appeared in the prestigious Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, at age 84) and through his influence on students who went on to graduate schools throughout North America. Before his retirement in 1965, more than 200 of his students had taken the PhD degree in chemistry.

    ‘He did his research well and his teaching superbly,’ says Robert Crawford, '52 BSc, '54 MSc. A former chair of the Chemistry Department and now an associate dean with the University's Faculty of Science, Crawford earned his master's degree under Sandin's direction and later knew the outstanding chemistry professor as a teaching colleague. ‘He was a giant with his classes,’ says Crawford.

    So popular were Sandin's lectures that when a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship took him to Harvard University for a sabbatical leave in 1939-40, his absence was keenly felt by students who had looked forward to his legendary Chemistry 42 (later 250) lectures and felt themselves to be missing a high-point of the University experience.

    During his career, Sandin won many honors — he was the first Canadian to win the Outstanding College Chemistry Teacher Award sponsored by the Manufacturing Chemists' Association, Washington, D.C.; in 1958 he was elected a fellow of the Chemical Institute of Canada; he received a special citation in organic chemistry from the CIC in 1960; and he won its inaugural Chemical Education Award in 1962 — but he never felt comfortable when he was receiving attention. ‘Put the spotlight on the student, not on yourself,’ was the theme of his address on the occasion of his receiving the CIC Education Award.

    A commemorative service for the legendary chemistry professor who unfailingly put the spotlight on his students was held on campus on 5 April. It was attended by many former colleagues and students, one who made the trip from Montreal just to be there. They spoke about ‘Rube’ with the genuine affection that is contained in Bob Crawford's remark eulogizing his former teacher and friend: ‘This is someone who is very special, a benevolent individual who is part of the history of this institution in a very distinct way.’

    An undergraduate scholarship in Dr. Sandin's honor has been established. Donations to the RB Sandin Scholarship Fund can be sent to the Department of Chemistry, University of Alberta, Edmonton T6G 2G2.

  • Past Lecturers
    • 2017 Barbara Imperiali (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
    • 2016 Stephen B.H. Kent (University of Chicago)
    • 2015 Alois Fürstner (Max-Planck-Institut für Kohlenforschung)
    • 2014 Ben L. Feringa (University of Groningen)
    • 2013 Kendall Houk (University of California, Los Angeles)
    • 2012 Jon Clardy (Harvard Medical School)
    • 2011 Vern Schramm (Albert Einstein College of Medicine)
    • 2010 Eiichi Nakamura (University of Tokyo)
    • 2009 Carolyn Bertozzi (University of California, Berkeley)
    • 2008 Stephen Benkovic (Pennsylvania State University)
    • 2007 Larry Overman (University of California, Irvine)
    • 2006 Jerrold Meinwald (Cornell University)
    • 2005 William DeGrado (University of Pennsylvania)
    • 2004 Henri Kagan (Université Paris Sud)
    • 2003 Paul Wender (Stanford University)
    • 2002 Peter B. Dervan (California Institute of Technology)
    • 2001 K. Barry Sharpless (Scripps Research Institute)
    • 2000 Robert Grubbs (California Institute of Technology)
    • 1999 Steven V. Ley (Cambridge University)
    • 1998 Christopher T. Walsh (Harvard University)
    • 1997 Teruaki Mukaiyama (Tokyo University of Science)
    • 1996 Ryoji Noyori (Nagoya University)
    • 1995 Sir Jack Baldwin (University of Oxford)
    • 1993 Barry M. Trost (Stanford University)
    • 1992 Peter G. Schultz (University of California, Berkeley)
    • 1991 George M. Whitesides (Harvard University)
    • 1990 Donald J. Cram (University of California, Los Angeles)
    • 1989 Dieter Seebach (ETH Zurich)
    • 1988 David A. Evans (Harvard University)
    • 1987 Jeremy R. Knowles (Harvard University)
    • 1986 Cheves Walling (University of Utah)
    • 1985 Ralph A. Raphael (Cambridge University)
    • 1984 Kurt Mislow (Princeton University)
    • 1983 Pierre Deslongchamps (Université de Sherbrooke)
    • 1982 Jean-Marie Lehn (Université de Strasbourg)
    • 1981 Yoshito Kishi (Harvard University)
    • 1980 Gilbert Stork (Columbia University)
    • 1979 Bernard R. Belleau (McGill University)
    • 1978 H. Gobing Khorana (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
    • 1977 Sir John Cornforth (University of Sussex)
    • 1976 B. Lindberg
    • 1975 K. Nakanishi
    • 1974 G. Ourisson
    • 1973 R. Breslow
    • 1972 D. Arigoni
    • 1971 K. Wiesner
    • 1970 E. Vogel
    • 1969 Sir Derek Barton
    • 1968 H. Eggerer
    • 1967 Sir Ewart Jones
    • 1966 A. Eschenmoser
    • 1965 J.D. Roberts
    • 1964 G. Buchi
    • 1963 E.E. Van Tamelen
    • 1962 S. Winstein

R.U. Lemieux Lecture on Biotechnology

The R. U. Lemieux Lectures on Biotechnology were created in 1990 to honour the contributions of Professor Raymond U. Lemieux (1920-2000), a pioneering carbohydrate chemist and a member of the department's faculty from 1961 to 1985.

  • Past Lecturers
    • Beat Ernst (University of Basel)
    • William Jacobs Jr. (Albert Einstein College of Medicine)
    • Tillman Gerngross (Dartmouth College)
    • T.L. Nagabhushan (Schering-Plough Corporation, USA)
    • A.C. Allison (Syntex Research, USA)
    • David A. Hopwood (John Innes Institute, Norwich, UK)
    • J. Schell (Plant Genetics Institute, Max Planck Institute)
    • Robert Church (University of Calgary)
    • Richard Lemer (Scripps Research Institute)
    • David Botstein (Stanford University Medical School)
    • James C. Paulson (Cytel Corporation, USA)
    • Thomas Cech (University of Colorado)
    • Gregory Winter (Cambridge Centre for Protein Engineering)
    • Christopher R. Somerville (Carnegie Institution of Washington, Stanford)
    • James A. Wells (Sunesis Pharmaceuticals)
    • Roger M. Perlmutter (Amgen Inc.)
    • Raymond Dwek (University of Oxford)
    • C.A.A. van Boeckel (Organon, Netherlands)
    • Philip Livingston (Cornell University)
    • Peter Seeberger (ETH Zürich)
    • Stephen Withers (University of British Columbia)

W.A. Ayer Lecture Series

The W.A. Ayer Lecture Series in Chemistry was established in honour of Dr. William A. Ayer through the generosity of his family, his friends and a number of donors. Together, they established a Memorial Fund that enables the Department of Chemistry of the University of Alberta to invite distinguished scientists who have made pioneering contributions in the broad field of natural products chemistry.

  • Past Lecturers
    • 2016 Andre Charette (Université de Montréal)
    • 2015 Pierre Deslongchamps (Université Laval)

Walter E. Harris Lecture Series

The Harris Lecture Series was established in 2014 to honour the contributions of the late professor Walter E. Harris (1915-2011) to the Department of Chemistry from 1946 to 2011, and features outstanding researchers in the field of analytical chemistry. The Harris Lectures continue the analytical series of lectures that were previously included within the Boomer Lecture Series (above).

Looking for the Walter E. Harris Teaching Workshops? Find information on the workshops first established in 1976 by Walter E. Harris, and re-established (and endowed in his honour) in 2003 here: Walter E. Harris Teaching Workshops.