Bunnett Research Sympoisum

The Bunnett lecture series is hosted annually by the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry in honor of Professor Emeritus Joseph Bunnett. Established in 2001, the sympoisum which is  held on the first Friday in May, features a formal lecture that has been presented by some of the most eminent scholars in the field of chemistry.

Professor Emeritus Joseph F. Bunnett, a long-time member of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at UC Santa Cruz, passed away on May 22, 2015. Professor Bunnett was one of the early builders of the department in the late 1960s and 1970s. He helped shape the unique character of undergraduate and graduate education on our campus.

Joe was already an outstanding scientist when he came to UC Santa Cruz in 1966 from Brown University. He continued a distinguished career as one of the most nationally and internationally respected physical organic chemists, making his mark not only in publishing seminal papers in the area of organic reaction mechanisms, but also as an educator and leader. He was a founding editor of one of the top American Chemistry Society journals, Accounts of Chemical Research. His idea that a journal devoted to short, concise, and critical articles offering easy-to-read overviews of basic research in all areas of chemistry would be highly desirable proved to be visionary.

Joe received numerous honors in recognition of his many outstanding contributions to our understanding of chemical reactions. He was a Guggenheim Fellow, a Fellow of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, and twice a Fulbright Fellow. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He was elected Honorary Member of numerous European and South American chemical societies, and he was the recipient of the 1992 James Flack Norris Award in Physical Organic Chemistry and the 1995 University of Rochester Distinguished Scholar Medal.

Professor Bunnett was also a strong advocate for undergraduate education and undergraduate research. He established a coveted prize, the Undergraduate Bunnett Research Award, which is awarded to multiple students every year.

Joseph F Bunnett

Professor Emeritus Joseph Bunnett (right) with speaker Professor Dennis A. Dougherty, California Institute of Technology and George Grant Hoag Professor of Chemistry...at the May 2015 symposium

After his retirement, Joe continued to be active in the department and in the profession. During the 1990s, he focused a lot of attention on the destruction of chemical weapons. He chaired the IUPAC Committee on Chemical Weapons Destruction Technologies. He served on committees of the National Research Council, Department of Defense, and Organization for the Destruction of Chemical Weapons. He participated in and co-chaired several NATO Advanced Research Workshops concerned with chemical weapons. He continued to participate in departmental activities and attend the weekly seminars. He regularly attended the annual Bunnett symposium, including the one that took place three weeks before his passing.

See Also