Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Farewell - Adieu

Recently, POMs lost three distinguished colleagues: Saul Wolfe, Richard Bader and A.J. Kresge.

Saul Wolfe, Dick Bader, Yvonne Chiang and Jerry Kresge
 1. Saul Wolfe (1933-2011) was for many years an active participant in POMs, and he helped organize two meetings at Queen’s University, in Kingston, where he spent much of his academic career before he was lured away to Simon Fraser U.  

Saul became involved with Phys. Org. Chem., working on his Ph.D. with Ray Lemieux, then at the University of Ottawa.  Later on, through collaboration with Imre Czimadia (U of Toronto), he got into theoretical calculations, first semi-empirical and then ab initio.  Some of his early studies were on the origins of the “Anomeric Effect” – a largely Canadian enterprise also known as the “Edward-Lemieux Effect”, after Jack Edward (another POMs participant and organizer) and Ray Lemieux.  

Much of Saul’s other research was related to penicillin-type derivatives, their synthesis and their mode of action as antibiotics. An obituary of Saul appeared in ACCN.

2. In January 2012, we lost another theoretical chemist, and sometime POMs participant, Richard Bader (1931–2012).  I first met Dick in 1963 when I was a graduate student at McMaster U. and where he had just joined the faculty. Although I took no courses from him he was helpful to me when I was preparing for exams in theoretical chemistry. Throughout the years I followed the evolution of his ideas and was pleased to see him receive credit for them late in his career.  Dick is now best known for his “Atoms in Molecules” (AIM) approach and the use of stationary points in electron density to analyze chemical bonding, as expounded in his published papers, reviews and books. See his website  and links therein.

Younger folk may not know that Dick started out as a physical organic chemist.  His Master’s research, with Art Bourns at McMaster, was a study of the mechanism of the Chugaev reaction, using kinetic isotope effects, and his Ph.D. work with C. Gardner Swain (M.I.T.) was mainly on the origins and interpretation of solvent isotope effects.  It was as a post-doc. with H.C. Longuet-Higgins (Cambridge, UK) that he got into the deeper, murkier waters of theoretical chemistry.

There was very interesting article about Dick Bader in Scientific Computing World (2003).

3. As reported earlier on the POMs main website, we also recently lost A. Jerry Kresge (1926-2010). Besides being one of the most eminent practitioners of physical organic chemistry in North America, Jerry was also one of POMs' most stalwart members. He died just two years after his wife and long-time collaborator, Yvonne Chiang.  From the earliest years of POMs, in the 1970s, Jerry and Yvonne were active participants and frequent contributors.

Jerry Kresge and Yvonne Chiang
A good synopsis of Jerry's career and his contributions to physical organic chemistry can be read in a biographical essay written by John Richard and Rory More O'Ferrall, Advances of Physical Organic Chemistry, Volume 44, pages xiii - xxiii (2010). 

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Welcome - Bienvenue

Welcome to the new POMS Blog!  I have created this blog to make it easier to update POMs news.  In the first instance, it will be used to supplement the POMs website but in due course it may well supercede it.

For readers who are unfamiliar with the Ontario-Quebec Physical Organic Mini-symposia, the first one was held in 1973.  The most recent one, the 39th POMs, was hosted by the Department of Chemistry at the University of Western Ontario, in London, Ontario.  The website for it was here.
By the way, the official name of UWO has been changed to "Western" which most of us have used for years!

For an overview of past POMs meetings and related matters go to the POMs website or use one of the POMs links in the left-hand column.