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"Father Of Modern Surface Chemistry" To Speak At Clarkson

[A photo of Gabor Somorjai for newspaper use is available at]

Gabor Somorjai, 2002 recipient of the National Medal of Science and University Professor of chemistry at the University of California-Berkeley, will present two lectures at Clarkson University on Monday, October 21 and Tuesday, October 22. The lectures are part of the Shipley Distinguished Lecture series and are open to the public.somorjai

Somorjai is considered “the father of modern surface chemistry.” A profile of Somorjai in a UC-Berkeley news publication explains, “Somorjai brought the study of surfaces out of the realm of physics into chemistry … and in the process revolutionized thinking about the nature of chemical reactions.” His research in surface chemistry has led to innovations in the use of surfaces to make products such as high-octane gasoline, plastic polymers and ammonia-based fertilizer.

Somorjai will speak on "Surfaces. Favorite Media of Evolution and New Technologies" on Monday, October 21, at 4:15 p.m. in room 360 of the Cora and Bayard Clarkson Science Center. A reception prior to the presentation will be held at 3:30 p.m.

He will present a lecture on "The Evolution of Surface Chemistry and Catalysis from the Time of Langmuir and Taylor to the 21st Century" on Tuesday October 22, at 11 a.m. in Room 213 of Bertrand H. Snell Hall.

In May, Somorjai was one of 15 scientists named by President George W. Bush as a recipient of the 2002 National Medal of Science, the nation’s highest honor for lifetime achievement in fields of scientific research. President Bush stated: “Each one of these individuals has helped advance our country’s place as a leader in discovery, creativity and technology.”

Somorjai’s research has focused on developing an atomic and molecular level understanding of surfaces, thus leading to a greater understanding of surface phenomena such as catalysis, adhesion, lubrication and biocompatibility.

Somorjai was born in Budapest, Hungary, and studied chemical engineering at the Technical University in Budapest.  After the failed 1956 uprising against the ruling Communist regime, Somorjai emigrated to the U.S. He enrolled at UC Berkeley and earned his Ph.D. in chemistry in 1960. After working for several years with IBM research staff at Yorktown Heights, N.Y., he returned to Berkeley in 1964.

Somorjai has published more than 850 scientific papers and three textbooks, and has received numerous awards. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1979 and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1983.

Gabor Somorjai’s lectures are co-sponsored by Clarkson’s Center for Advanced Materials Processing and the Wallace H. Coulter School of Engineering. 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.

For more information about the lectures, please contact Professor Egon Matijević at 315-268-2392.

PHOTO CAPTION: Gabor Somorjai, chemist and National Medal of Science recipient, will speak at Clarkson University as part of the Shipley Distinguished Lecture Series on October 21 and 22.
[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Annie Harrison, Director of Media Relations, at 315-268-6764 or]

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