Helen Murray Free Endowment Lecture

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Helen Murray Free

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.

2019 Upcoming Lecture

Geri Richmond

Geraldine (Geri) Richmond

Presidential Chair of Science and Professor Chemistry
University of Oregon

Geraldine (Geri) Richmond is an international expert in environmental chemistry who has also dedicated her career to increasing the success of women in the sciences. She is the Presidential Chair in Science and Professor of Chemistry at the University of Oregon. Her research using laser spectroscopy and computational methodsfocuses on understanding environmentally and technologically important processes that occur at liquid surfaces. A native of Kansas, Richmond received her B.S. in chemistry from Kansas State University in 1976 and her Ph.D. in physical chemistry under the direction of George Pimentel at the University of California, Berkeley in 1980. After her first faculty appointment as assistant professor at Bryn Mawr College she moved to the University of Oregon where she has been since 1985.

Richmond is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and is a Fellow of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the American Physical Society (APS), the Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the Association for Women in Science. She has served in leadership roles on many international, national and state governing and advisory boards. Website: http://richmondscience.uoregon.edu

Read the press release

Thursday, February 6, 2020, Wishart Hall, Lean Lecture

Technical Lecture: 11:00 AM - Surf, Sink or Swim: Understanding Environmentally Important Processes at Water Surfaces

Although the special properties of water have been valued and appreciated for centuries, as scientists we continue to be perplexed by the molecular make-up of water in all its forms. Equally perplexing is the surface of water, the entry gate for anything going into our water. In the Richmond laboratory they study environmentally important processes at aqueous surfaces using laser based spectroscopic techniques and molecular dynamics simulations. Professor Richmond will focus her talk on what they have learned about of the intriguing molecular behavior of water surfaces and how its behavior plays a role in important environmental processes.

Public Lecture: 7:30 PM -The Importance of Global Scientific Engagement

In rural Laos, more than 50% of newborns will be stunted by age two due to chronic malnourishment and drinkable water. Worldwide, 161 million children under the age of five—many of them in Africa and Asia—suffered irreversible stunting as of 2016. Food security is only one of the many complex and interconnected challenges embedded in ensuring a sustainable world in the face of climate change and a population soon to reach nine billion. All such challenges demand a major shift in how we seek innovative ways to co-exist with ever-expanding needs for energy, food, water, and a healthy environment. Solutions demand innovative international research collaborations and policies that include talents and perspectives from both the developed and developing world. This presentation will share the many stories and insights gained from Professor Richmond's collaborative efforts with several thousand scientists and engineers in many developing countries around the globe.

Past Lecturers*

Joseph S. Francisco


Joseph S. Francisco, President's Distinguished Professor,
Department of Earth and Environmental Science,
University of Pennsylvania

Joseph S. 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 (.pdf). Read the press release.


Bassam Z. Shakhashiri, The William T. Evjue Distinguished Chair for the Wisconsin Idea, Department of Chemistry; Director, Wisconsin Initiative for Science Literacy, University of Wisconsin-Madison; President, the American Chemical Society, 2012.


Madeleine Jacobs, President & CEO, Council of Scientific Society Presidents, Former Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of the American Chemical Society.


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


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


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

2012 - Fall

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

2012 - Spring

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

*Affiliations at time of lecture