BU’s High Noon Talk Series features chemistry professor

For Immediate Release

Date:  April 13, 2006


BLOOMSBURG—The process of making chemicals that were once rare but are now commonly found in consumer products will be the focus of Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania’s final High Noon Talk Series lecture for the spring semester.

Assistant professor of chemistry John Morgan will present “The Olefin Metathesis Reaction: A ‘Square Dance’ on the Molecular Level” Thursday, April 20, at noon in the Columbia Hall Fireside Lounge. The talk, sponsored by the BU Commission on the Status of Women, is open to the public free of charge.

Olefins are chemicals found in a wide range of materials, including plastics, oil, beauty products and pharmaceuticals. Because they are so widely used, finding a way to easily make these products has become a common goal of synthetic chemists, according to Morgan. 

One of the most effective methods for creating these materials involves the olefin metathesis reaction, which involves “swapping” olefin partners to create new olefins, much like a square dance. During his talk, Morgan will give a very basic overview of how this reaction, which began as a chemical oddity, became one of the most common techniques for making olefins in the 21st century. 

As a graduate student at the California Institute of Technology, Morgan contributed to the work of Robert H. Grubbs, winner of the 2005 Nobel Prize in chemistry. Morgan received his doctoral degree from Caltech in 2002.

A first-year BU professor, Morgan has received numerous awards, including the Peirce Prize in Chemistry from Haverford College and the Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award from Caltech for two consecutive years. His current research focuses on the potential uses of specific catalysts that accelerate chemical reactions and can be used to make polymers and pharmaceuticals.

Bloomsburg University is one of 14 universities in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. The university serves approximately 8,000 students and offers 65 bachelor’s, 17 master’s and one doctoral degree.