Buchanan lecturer to speak on chemistry’s prime role in evolution

BOWLING GREEN, O.—Distinguished chemist Dr. Nils Walter will discuss chemistry as the driving force behind evolution in Bowling Green State University’s 2011 Jean Pasakarnis Buchanan Lecture on campus April 19.

“Chemistry of Life: Driving Force for the Evolution from Cyanide to the RNA World to Mankind” will be the topic of his discussion, scheduled for 7 p.m. in 112 Life Sciences Building. The event is free and open to the public.

Walter will focus on chemistry, leading from simple molecules to those of a modern cell in terms of evolution. He will argue that, from chemical, molecular biological and biophysical approaches, nature’s ability to create order from chaos and complexity from simplicity is still unsurpassed in any other aspect of creation.

A professor of chemistry at the University of Michigan, Walter specializes in single-molecule fluorescence spectroscopy and microscopy, folding and function on noncoding RNA, live-cell imaging, biophysical chemistry of nucleic acids and chemical biology. He is interested in understanding the structure-function relationships in ncRNAs utilizng single molecule tools for biomedical, bioanalytical and nanotechnological applications. He has published widely about the functions and dynamics of RNA.

He received his Ph.D. at the Max-Planck Institute and his post-doctoral degree from the Technical University of Darmstadt.

He was awarded the Alumnus of the Year Award from the Sherbrooke RiboClub in 2006, the Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award in 2004, and the Otto-Hahn Award for Outstanding Researchers of the Max-Planck Society in 1995.

BGSU’s annual lecture series was created in 1998 through an endowment by Jean Pasakarnis Buchanan, who graduated from the University in 1952 and went on to a 33-year career as a cytologist with Massachusetts General Hospital. She also taught cytology, which is the study of human cells, at Northeastern University. Buchanan received the Alumni Community Award from BGSU in 1972, and in 1987 set up a scholarship for biology or medical technology majors. Her lectureship endowment has allowed the University to bring some of the leading figures in biology and medicine to campus each year.

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(Posted April 15, 2011 )