Helen Murray Free

Helen Murray Free


Helen Murray Free Endowment Lecture

Helen Murray Free graduated with a B.A. in chemistry from The College of Wooster in 1945. Her research in clinical chemistry revolutionized diagnostic testing, particularly the "dip-and-read" glucose tests for diabetics, and she was awarded seven patents for her clinical diagnostic test inventions. From 1987 to 1992, she chaired the American Chemical Society's (ACS) National Chemistry Week Task Force, and in 1993 she served as president of the ACS. She and her husband, Alfred, were inducted into the National Inventor's Hall of Fame in 2000, and in 2010, the ACS designated the development of diagnostic test strips as a National Historic Chemical Landmark. That same year, she was awarded the National Medal of Technology and Innovation by President Obama. In 2011, Helen was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, NY.

The Helen Murray Free Endowed Lecture Series was established by Helen's children and endowed through the Al and Helen Free Foundation.  Each year, this endowed fund will bring to campus a renowned chemical scientist, who will interact with chemistry students at a technical level and present an all-college convocation on the contributions of science to the quality of life.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Jospeh Francisco

Joseph S. Francisco,President's Distinguished Professor, Department of Earth and Environmental Science, University of Pennsylvania, will present two lectures:

Technical Lecture

From Atmospheric Complexes to Aerosols: New Insights into Atmospheric Chemistry
Wishart Hall, Lean Lecture, 11:00 a.m.

The chemistry in our atmosphere governs phenomena such as ozone depletion, acid rain, and climate change. Having a firm understanding of all chemical processes at the molecular level in the atmosphere will allow for the development of accurate global climate models. This talk will discuss some of the more traditional chemical reactions that occur in the atmosphere, and how water influences both the mechanism and kinetic of atmospheric reactions. How gas-phase materials become incorporated with cloud droplets has been an intriguing subject for decades, and considerable work has been done to understand the interactions between closed-shell molecules and liquid water. The interactions between radical species and the air/water interface of cloud droplets, however, are not well understood. Fundamental structure and interactions of radical-molecules are critical to understanding binding, the configuration, and orientation of radicals the interface. This has important ramifications for our understanding of radical chemistry and lends new insight into the role that clouds and aerosols play in processing chemistry in the atmosphere.

Public Lecture

How We Can Rebuild Trust in Science— And Why We Must
Ruth Williams Hall, 060 Gateway, 7:30 p.m. 

Chemistry plays a critical role in daily life, impacting areas such as medicine and health, consumer products, energy production, the environment, and many other areas.  Despite the growing body of evidence, which indicates that the general public is engaging with science, there is a general perception among those in the field that chemistry is decreasing in popularity and general public interest. Moreover, there is growing public mistrust in scientific research. When the public does not trust scientific research, initiatives that bring palpable benefits to society are at risk. This affects the future for all of us. We as a community cannot afford to just communicate our knowledge among peers, but we must impress on the general public the importance of what we do and the societal impacts of what we do. How can we improve and build public trust? What are effective ways that we can communicate better with the public at large. As universities and departments mobilize to invest in efforts to raise public awareness of the importance of chemistry in everyday life, what are effective strategies for communication activities? Over the years, many approaches have been tried; some have worked, and many have failed. Consequently, the chemistry community has lacked a cohesive strategy for effective communication activities.  This talk will outline a practical framework for crafting communication strategies to effectively engage the general public.

About Dr. Fancisco

Dr. Francisco recently joined the Department of Earth and Environmental Science, University of Pennsylvania as the President's Distinguished Professor.  Since 2014, he has served as the Elmer H. and Ruby M. Cordes Chair in Chemistry & Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.  His research interests include atmospheric chemistry, tropospheric and stratospheric chemical kinetics and modeling, atmospheric spectroscopy and photochemistry, and aerosol and cloud chemistry.  Among his many professional roles and honors, Dr. Francisco is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, served as a member of President Barack Obama's President's Committee on the National Medal of Science (2010-2015), and was president of the American Chemical Society.  For a more detailed biography please select this link: Joseph S. Francisco biography.

Past Lecturers


Prof. Bassam Z. Shakhashiri Bassam Z. Shakhashiri is professor of chemistry and the first holder of the William T. Evjue Distinguished Chair for the Wisconsin Idea at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  He is well known internationally for his effective leadership in promoting excellence in science education at all levels. He is an advocate for policies to advance knowledge and to use science and technology to serve society.  From 1984-1990 Dr. Shakhashiri served as Assistant Director of the National Science Foundation (NSF) for Science and Engineering Education.  In 2012 Professor Shakhashiri served as president of the American Chemical Society.  He is best known to the public at large for his annual program, “Once Upon a Christmas Cheery, In the Lab of Shakhashiri,” seen on PBS stations around the country. The science-oriented entertainment show has played to packed houses around the country.  Read press release.

Bassam Shakhashiri's lectures are available on YouTube. 


Madeleine JacobsMadeleine Jacobs is President and Chief Executive Officer of the Council of Scientific Society Presidents, an organization of presidents, presidents-elect, and recent past presidents of about 60 scientific federations and societies whose combined membership numbers well over 1 million scientists and science educators. Read press release.


Madeleine Jacobs' lectures are available on YouTube.  


Ned Heindel, H.S. Bunn Chair Professor of Chemistry at Lehigh University and a consultant on drug development for Azevan Pharmaceuticals. Read press release.


Paul Anderson, Retired Senior Vice President of chemical and physical sciences for the DuPont-Merck Pharmaceuticals Company. Read press release.


Susan Solomon, Ellen Swallow Richards Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry and Climate Science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Read press release.

2012 - Fall

Sam Niedbala, Professor of practice in the Chemistry Department at Lehigh University and CEO of DeTect Biosciences LLC. Read press release.

2012 - Spring

Catherine Hunt, R&D Director of Innovation Sourcing and Sustainable Technologies at The Dow Chemical Company. Read press release.