William Lloyd Evans Lecture

Robert Bergman
October 17, 2019
All Day
McPherson Laboratory 1000


Evans Lecture Day 1

Jack Szostak - Harvard 

Dr. Szostak is Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School, Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Harvard University, Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and the Alex Rich Distinguished Investigator in the Department of Molecular Biology and the center for Computational and Integrative Biology at Massachusetts General Hospital. Dr.
Szostak’s early research on telomere structure and function and the role of telomere maintenance in preventing cellular senescence was recognized by the 2006 Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award and the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

In the 1990s Dr. Szostak and his colleagues developed in vitro selection as a tool for the isolation of functional RNA, DNA and protein molecules from large pools of random sequences. Dr. Szostak is a member of the National Academy and in 2019, was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society based on his ‘substantial contribution to the improvement of natural knowledge, including mathematics, engineering science, and medical science’. Dr. Szostak’s current research interests are in the laboratory synthesis of selfreplicating systems and the origins of life.

The Origin of Cellular Life
Thursday, October 17th 

4:10pm, 1000 McPherson
The complexity of modern biological life has long made it difficult to understand how life could emerge spontaneously from the chemistry of the early earth.  In an effort to discover plausible pathways for the transition from chemical evolution to Darwinian evolution, we are attempting to synthesize extremely simple artificial cells.  I will present recent experimental progress towards the development and integration of the two key components of such a protocell, namely a self-replicating nucleic acid genome, and a self-replicating cell membrane. 

5:15 to 7:00pm in CBEC Lobby
Dow Graduate Student Poster Competition and reception
- The reception will be catered 

Evans Lecture Day 2

Friday, October 18th 
2:00pm in Stillman Hall 100
Dow Graduate Student Seminars
- Coffee and light refreshments will be provided

The surprising chemistry of nonenzymatic RNA replication
in Stillman Hall 100
The RNA genomes of the first cells are thought to have emerged from the nonenzymatic replication of short RNA strands.  We have recently found that the template-directed reaction of a primer with activated nucleotide substrates proceeds through an unexpected covalent intermediate.  Our kinetic and crystallographic studies have provided insight into the mechanism of this key reaction, and to improvements in RNA copying chemistry that are both more prebiotically plausible and more accurate, efficient, and general.

History of The William Lloyd Evans Lectures


The Evans Lecture at Ohio State University was established in 1961 upon the dedication of Evans Laboratory, in recognition of the late William Lloyd Evans for his distinguished service to the Department of Chemistry. Each year, a faculty committee has been charged with selecting a chemist of outstanding international stature to receive the Evans Award and present the Evans Lecture.

William Lloyd Evans (b. 1871) received his M.S. degree in 1896 from Ohio State and joined the Chemistry Department faculty in 1905 after having received his Ph.D. degree that year under Professor Ulric Nef at the University of Chicago. As an Assistant Professor in charge of the course in General Chemistry, “Billy” Evans was soon recognized as an especially effective and inspiring teacher. He rose to the rank of Full Professor in 1911, and his service to the Department was interrupted only by a two-year period of military service during World War I at Edgewood Arsenal. In 1928, he was named Chairman, succeeding Professor William McPherson.

During his tenure as Chairman, a post that he held until 1941, he guided the Department toward increased emphasis on graduate research. He encouraged the development of a strong research-oriented faculty and the expansion of research through involvement of outside industry and government agencies in sponsored programs. Following his retirement in 1941, Professor Evans was elected President of the American Chemical Society, and he continued his work in chemistry during active retirement until his death in 1954 at the age of 83.

Previous Lecturers:

2018 - Judith P. Klinman

2016 - Daniel Nocera

2015 - Angela Gronenborn

2014 - Carol Robinson

2013 - Jacqueline K. Barton

2012 - Chris Dobson

2011 - Sumio Iijima

2010 - Carolyn Bertozzi

2009 - Professor W. E. Moerner

2008 - Doug Rees

PDF icon List of Previous Lectures back to 1962.pdf

Note: This lecture was made possible by financial support from the Dr. Robert H. Lawrence Jr. Endowed Fund in Chemistry, the Dr. Kurt L. Loening Endowment Fund in Chemical Nomenclature and Chemical Information, the Chemistry Lecture Fund, as well as numerous other donors.

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