SonBinh Nguyen


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McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence
Dow Chemical Company Research Professor
Director of the Integrated Science Program


NSF Postdoctoral Fellow, The Scripps Research Institute (with Professor K. Barry Sharpless), 1995-1996
Ph.D. Chemistry, California Institute of Technology (with Professor Robert H. Grubbs and Nathan S. Lewis), 1995
B.S. Chemistry, Penn State University (with Prof. Gregory L. Geoffroy), 1990


The Genealogy

Jean Hennuyer, College of Navarree – 1539
Born in Saint-Quentin or Laon in 1497 and died in Lisieux March 12, 1578, was a French prelate, Bishop of Lisieux. A Dominican theologian.

Petrus Ramus, Paris – 1536
(1515 – 1572) Professor of philosophy and mathematics; champion of revival of arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and physics in the educational curriculum (which had fallen into neglect) by emphasizing the practical origins and applications of these subjects.

Henricus Brucaeus, College Royal, Paris – 1550
(1531 – 1593) Professor of mathematics and medicine; wrote texts on the plague, scurvy, and the mathematics of spheres and motion.

Petrus Pauw, Rostock – 1587
(1564 – 1617) Professor of medicine, anatomy, and botany; wrote a text on skeletal anatomy and gave excellent descriptions of the frontal and maxillary sinuses. Wrote with Fabricius a description of the intestinal valves.

Menelaus Winsemius, Ledien – 1613
(1591 – 1637) Professor of medicine, anatomy, and botany; improved the botanical gardens at the University of Franeker. Published, with his students, an anatomical compendium.

Johannes Antonides van der Linden, Franeker – 1630
(1609 – 1664) Professor of medicine, anatomy, and botany; philologist and philosopher; published books on medical bibliography, physiology, milk, and venereal diseases; published an edition of Hippocrates’ Opera Omnia and an edition of Celsius’ De Medicina.

Petrus Hoffvenius, Leiden – 1660
(1630 – 1682) Professor of medicine; called “The Father of Swedish Medicine”; supporter of Descartes; studied the pineal gland and respiration.

Petrus Elvius (The Elder), Uppsala – 1688
(1660 – 1718) Astronomer, mathematician; wrote textbooks on astronomical observation and logarithmic tables; designed a planetarium based on Copernican theory; pioneered giving lectures in Swedish, rather than Latin; published and corrected almanacs.

Anders Gabriel Duhre,  Uppsala – 1711
(1680 – 1739) Popularized teaching classes in Swedish; wrote one of the first textbooks on algebra in Swedish.

Samuel Klingenstierna, Uppsala – 1717
(1698 – 1765) Professor of mathematics and physics; studied the geometry of optics and was the fist to give a comprehensive study for the design of lenses that are achromatic and lack spherical aberration.

Mårten Strömer, Uppsala – 1730
(1707 – 1770) Mathematician and astronomer; studied the motion of bodies; translated Euclid’s Elements into Swedish; wrote texts on geometry, trigonometry, magnetic declination, barometric pressure, meteorology, electricity, and astronomy; improved Celsius’ thermometer by reversing the scale to make 0 degrees the freezing point and 100 degrees the boiling point of water rather than vice-versa; was among the first in Europe to apply electricity as an aid in healing. Teacher/Research Adviser: Unknown.

Bengt Fermer, University of Uppsala – 1751
(1724 – 1802) Professor of Astronomy, observing astronomer; industrial spy (copper and brass industries) in Britain; permanent secretary and adviser to King Gustav III.

Torbern Olof Bergman, University of Uppsala – 1758
(1735  – 1784) Swedish chemist and mineralogist noted for his 1775 Dissertation on Elective Attractions, containing the largest chemical affinity tables ever published. Bergman was the first chemist to use the A, B, C, etc., system of notation for chemical species.

Jons Jakob Berzelius, Uppsala  – 1802
(1779  – 1848) Swedish chemist. He invented the modern chemical notation, and together with John Dalton, Antoine Lavoisier, and Robert Boyle, is considered a father of modern chemistry.

Friedrich Wöhler, Heidelberg – 1823
(1800  – 1882) German chemist who was best-known for  his synthesis of urea, but also the first to isolate several of the elements. He is regarded as a pioneer in organic chemistry as a result of his (accidentally) synthesizing urea in the Wöhler synthesis in 1828.

Heinrish Frans Peter Limpricht, Göttingen – 1850
(1827 – 1909) German chemist. Limpricht was a pupil of Friedrich Wöhler and co-adviser for Fittig; he worked on the chemistry of furans and pyrroles, discovering furan in 1870.

Wilhelm Rudolph Fittig, Göttingen – 1858
(1835 – 1910) German chemist. Responsible for the discovery of the pinacol coupling reaction, mesitylene, diacetyl and biphenyl. He studied the action of sodium on ketones and hydrocarbons. He discovered the Fittig reaction or Wurtz-Fittig reaction for the synthesis of alkylbenzenes and proposed a diketone structure for benzoquinone and isolated phenanthrene from coal tar. He discovered and synthesized the first lactones and investigated structures of piperine naphthalene and fluorene.

Ira Remsen, Göttingen – 1870
(1846 – 1927) Chemist who, along with Constantin Fahlberg, discovered the artificial sweetener saccharin. He was the second president of Johns Hopkins University.

James Flack Norris, Johns Hopkins – 1895
A member of the Naval Consulting Board and during World War I he served as a Lt. Colonel in the Chemical Warfare Service. After the war, he served for ten years as Vice Chairman and Chairman of the Division of Chemistry and Chemical Technology of the National Research Council. He was an active member of the ACS and is fondly remembered as “Sunny Jim”.

Avery Allen Ashdown, MIT 1924
Faculty member in the Department of Chemistry and was chosen as the first Housemaster of the first graduate house at MIT in 1933. He was Housemaster for 28 years and was the first faculty resident in any of the dormitories at MIT.

Robert Burns Woodward, MIT – 1937
(1917 – 1979) American organic chemist. He made many important contributions to modern organic chemistry, especially in the synthesis and structure determination of complex natural products, and worked closely with Roald Hoffmann on theoretical studies of chemical reactions. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1965.

Ronald Breslow, Harvard 1955
(b. 1931) U.S. chemist. He is currently University Professor at Columbia University, where he is based in the Department of Chemistry and affiliated with the Departments of Biological Sciences and Pharmacology; he has also been on the faculty of its Department of Chemical Engineering. He has taught at Columbia since 1956 and is a former chair of the university’s chemistry department.

Robert Grubbs, Columbia – 1968
(b. 1942) American chemist and Nobel laureate. His main interests in organometallic chemistry and synthetic chemistry are catalysts, notably Grubbs’ catalyst for olefin metathesis and ring-opening metathesis polymerization with cyclic olefins such as norbornene. He also contributed to the development of so-called “living polymerization”.

SonBinh T. Nguyen, CalTech 1995
(b. 196?) American chemist and the McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence, Dow Chemical Company Research Professor, Professor of Chemistry, and Director of the Integrated Science Program at Northwestern University. His research interests are varied and include catalysis, inorganic/organic materials, and nanoscale drug delivery.




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