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UCSD Jacobs School of Engineering

Esteemed Nobel Laureate in Chemistry to Give Free Lecture at UCSD

April 22, 2004 -- Nobel Laureate and renowned chemist, Dr. John B. Fenn, will give a lecture entitled “Electrospray Wings for Molecular Elephants,” sponsored by the Jacobs School of Engineering’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, at 3 p.m. May 7 in the UCSD Price Center Theater.  The lecture is free and open to the public, with reception to follow.  For more information, visit the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering web site at or call Norma Showalter at (858) 534-0113.

Fenn was awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 2002 for his work in the development of what are known as electrospray ion sources. These sources have extended and enhanced the mass spectrometer used for identification and structure analyses of biological macromolecules  The esteemed scientist and professor will visit UCSD to discuss scientific milestones which led to the evolution of this important technology from early 20th century molecular beam experiments based on low pressure small effusive leaks into vacuum systems to the high pressure molecular beam sources based on big convective leaks, which have turned out to be even more powerful and versatile tools.  These large leaks produce supersonic jets as the first stage of molecular beam sources, and Fenn will discuss the impact of these jet sources in the fields of molecular and atomic physics, chemistry, and most recently, biology.

The supersonic free jet sources produced by these big leaks have greatly extended molecular beam methods, become a corner-stone of cluster science and technology, and rewritten the book on molecular spectrometry. Those jets are now adding new dimensions to the techniques of mass spectrometry by making possible the production of intact ions from the large, complex and fragile species that play such vital roles in living systems. It is a fascinating journey, involving several disciplines, and Fenn has played a seminal role at several junctions.

The upcoming lecture is part of the Stanford S. and Beverly P. Penner Distinguished Lectures in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Sciences.   During each academic term, a distinguished speaker presents a lecture at UCSD on research and technology in related fields.

Penner was the founding Chair of the Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering Sciences (AMES) program at UC San Diego in 1964, an event that launched engineering at the university.   AMES was renamed Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (MAE) in 1999.  Holder of a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Wisconsin, Penner has been involved with a wide range of scientific research, both theoretical and experimental.  His early research focused on engineering physics and physical chemistry of jet propulsion.  In recent years, he has turned his attention to the global problems of energy supplies, energy systems, and the environmental impact of energy utilization and waste disposal.  He is the author of 300 journal articles and seven books, and the recipient of numerous professional honors, including election to the National Academy of Engineering.

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Media Contacts

Rex Graham
Jacobs School of Engineering
Phone: 858-822-3075