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Nobel Laureate Richard Ernst To Speak At Clarkson

[A photo of Richard Ernst for newspaper use is available at]

Richard Ernst, recipient of the 1991 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, will speak at Clarkson University on October 8 and 9. He will present two lectures as part of the Shipley Distinguished Lecture Series; both lectures are open to the public.rernst

On Monday, October 8, at 4:15 p.m. in Room 360 of the Clarkson Science Center, Ernst will speak on “Tibetan Painting Art Seen Through the Eyes of a Western Scientist.” Reflecting his longstanding interest in Tibetan thangka painting, Ernst will discuss the unique insights provided by these scroll paintings, which express religious beliefs, philosophical principles, and historical facts. External influences from India, China and Mongolia are blended into this sophisticated and original art form. Ernst will also cover the numerous scientific aspects that are involved in the study, conservation and restoration of the delicate thangka paintings. A reception will be held prior to the lecture, beginning at 3:30 p.m.

On Tuesday, October 9, at 11:00 a.m. in Room 213 of Bertrand H. Snell Hall, Ernst will present a technical lecture entitled “Fascinating NMR Insights with Applications to Chemistry, Biology and Medicine.” Ernst’s work toward the development of NMR was recognized with the 1991 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Ernst will discuss the versatility of NMR as a tool for exploring nature on a molecular level. NMR permits the structural and dynamic study of smaller molecules and biomolecules; it allows investigations of solid materials, and it has become an indispensable tool in clinical medicine. Perhaps the most intriguing application is the study of brain function by functional MRI.

Ernst was born in 1933 in Winterthur, Switzerland. As a child, in the attic of his home he found a case of chemicals that had belonged to an uncle who was a metallurgical engineer; experimentation with these sparked his first interest in chemistry. His fascination led him to read extensively about chemistry, and eventually to earn a diploma in chemistry from Eidgenossische Technische Hochshule (ETH) in Zurich. In 1962 he earned his PhD from ETH. His thesis work involved instrumentation and a theoretical study of nuclear magnetic resonance with random excitation.

From 1963–1968 Ernst worked at Varian Associates in Palo Alto, California. During this time he developed NMR Fourier spectroscopy, noise decoupling, and computer methods. In 1968, Ernst returned to ETH Zurich, where he has since remained, eventually becoming a full professor. He further developed Fourier spectroscopy and stochastic resonance.

Nobel Laureate Ernst has received numerous other honors for his work, including the Silver Medal of the ETH for his PhD thesis in 1962. In 1991 he shared the prestigious Wolf Prize for chemistry, given by the Wolf Foundation of Israel, with Alex Pines of Berkeley, and also won the Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize for Biology or Biochemistry, shared with Kurt Wuthrich of ETH Zurich. In 2000, Ernst was presented with the Tadeus Reichstein Medal.

Richard R. Ernst’s lectures are co-sponsored by the Center for Advanced Materials Processing and the School of Liberal Arts. The Shipley Distinguished Lecture Series was initiated in 1994 through a generous gift from Charles and Lucia Shipley through the Shipley Family Foundation. The purpose of the lecture series is to promote scholarly achievements at Clarkson by providing the opportunity for idea exchange and active learning, as well as exposing undergraduate and graduate students to the most prestigious speakers from all over the world.

PHOTO CAPTION: Richard Ernst, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, will speak at Clarkson University on October 8 and 9.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Annie Harrison, Director of Media Relations, at 315-268-6764 or]

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