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Home > Press > UCLA Scientist to Present Provost Lecture on “Nano Meccano”

The research of this third-most-cited chemist has led to breakthroughs in product synthesis and nanotechnology

UCLA Scientist to Present Provost Lecture on “Nano Meccano”Oct. 7 at Science2005

October 04, 2005

An internationally recognized pioneer in the field of supramolecular chemistry-the chemistry beyond the molecule-from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), will present the Provost Lecture at the University of Pittsburgh's fifth annual showcase of science and technology, Science2005: The New Research Ecology.

J. Fraser Stoddart, the Fred Kavli Chair of NanoSystems Sciences and director of the California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA, will speak at 11 a.m. Friday, Oct. 7, in the 7th floor auditorium of Alumni Hall at the University of Pittsburgh. The title of his lecture is “Nano Meccano: An Integrated Systems-Oriented Approach to Molecular Electronics.”

Stoddart's work focuses on elucidating the natural processes of molecular recognition and self-assembly and applying that dynamic to directed activities in both the life and materials sciences, leading to a number of breakthroughs in product synthesis and nanotechnology. According to the Institute for Scientific Information, Stoddart is currently the third most cited chemist in academia.

Stoddart's research has given scientists a much better understanding of the information and instructions stored in the covalent frameworks of supramolecular architectures. By learning from existing supramolecular systems that use weak noncovalent bonding to undergo self-organization, Stoddart has developed unique mechanical interlocked molecules, often involving interlocking rings and dumbbells that function as molecular switches on the nanoscale. (A nanometer is one-billionth of a meter, or 10,000 times smaller than the thickness of a human hair.) These molecules are not only useful in and of themselves, but they represent the beginning of a series of developments that may give researchers unprecedented control over the structural and dynamic organization of matter.

“Building artificial molecular machines and getting them to operate is where airplanes were a century ago,” said Stoddart. “We have come a long way in the last decade, but we have a very, very long way to go yet to realize the full potential of artificial molecular machines.” However, a number of futuristic-sounding concepts and materials already have been inspired by his work, including nanofibers that can improve sensor response, an artificial molecular machine that can move up and down between two levels like an elevator, and a molecule-trapping nanovalve that could potentially be used as a drug delivery system.

Stoddart received the Ph.D. and D.Sc. degrees from Edinburgh University in Scotland. In 1997, he arrived at UCLA as the Saul Winstein Professor of Chemistry. Stoddart has published more than 725 scientific papers. He is an associate editor of Organic Letters and is currently on the international advisory boards of numerous journals, including Angewandte Chemie and the Journal of Organic Chemistry. Among his many honors are the Carnegie Centenary Professorship at the Universities of Scotland (2005), the Nagoya Gold Medal in Organic Chemistry (2004), the American Chemical Society's Cope Scholar Award (1999), and the International Izatt-Christensen Award in Macrocyclic Chemistry (1993). Stoddart was elected to fellowship in the Royal Society of London in 1994 and to membership in the German Academy of Natural Sciences Leopoldina in 1999.

The Provost Lecture is presented by Pitt's Office of the Provost. “The University is keenly interested in nanotechnology, and the provost has allocated considerable resources to this exciting new venture,” said George Klinzing, Pitt vice provost for research.

Science2005 will explore some of today's leading areas of research at the University of Pittsburgh and throughout the region that are characterized by increasingly interrelated disciplines working together to shed light on new pathways to discovery. The free, public program, which will take place Oct. 6-7 in Alumni Hall, will feature keynote lectures by some of America's leading scientists and symposium sessions on timely research topics as diverse as neuroimaging, whole genome analysis, nanoscience, the science of aging, structural biology, Einsteinian principles, and more.

For more information or advance registration, go to

Karen Hoffmann

Copyright © University of Pittsburgh

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