Arnold C. Ott Lectureship in Chemistry

The Arnold C. Ott Lectureship in Chemistry was created and endowed by a generous gift from Dr. Arnold C. Ott and Marion Ott. Dr. Ott received his Ph.D. in 1943 from Michigan State University in Chemistry/Physics/Bacteriology and is a leading chemist and entrepreneur in West Michigan. He is one of the co-founders of Grand Valley State University and served on the GVSU Board of Trustees for 28 years.

Dr. Daniel Nocera

Dr. Daniel Nocera

Patterson Rockwood Professor of Energy

Harvard University

Community Lecture  Thursday, September 28, 2023  6:00 - 7:00 PM 

Russel H. Kirkhof Center, Room 2250 Grand River Room (Parking available in Lots H2 and H4)

The Global Energy Challenge

Chemistry Seminar  Friday, September 29, 2023  1:00 - 2:00 PM 

Russel H. Kirkhof Center, Room 2204 Pere Marquette Room (Parking available in Lots H2 and H4)

Food and Fuel from Thin Air, Any Water and the Sun

Kirkhof Center, Allendale Campus

Community Lecture   The Global Energy Challenge

Living healthy on a dying planet—we are a world out of balance. Relying on science to improve the health of the individual with the design of new drugs and therapies, we are neglectful of the health of our humanity at a global level. Disease indeed does compromise humankind’s very existence … but it is not disease inflicted on humans … rather it is the disease inflicted by humans on our planet and the response of her immunological system on us. Climate change continues to outpace the implementation of renewable energy at an alarming rate. In addressing the global energy challenge, research discovery confronts two worlds: a world with a large energy infrastructure already in place (the legacy world) and a world with little to no energy infrastructure (the nonlegacy world). Consequently, in addressing the energy challenge, research must be cognizant of these two different energy worlds as they give rise to different targets. In the legacy world, the fastest path to implementing renewable energy is to integrate discovery with the established infrastructure. This talk will touch on the creation of the coordination chemistry flow battery, which allows for massive grid storage, and the path from bench to commercialization will be presented. On the other end of the spectrum is the non-legacy world. As will be shown, it is the non-legacy world that will drive future global energy need. Thus, this is the most important target for renewable energy to mitigate global carbon emissions. Two inventions will be presented: the Artificial Leaf and the Bionic Leaf, which produce food and fuel in a distributed and sustainable way using only sunlight, air and water. These discoveries are particularly useful to the poor of the world, where large infrastructures are not tenable.

Dan Nocera Fall 2023 Ott Lecture 1 - Thursday, Sept 28

Chemistry Seminar  Food and Fuel from Thin Air, Any Water and the Sun

Hybrid biological | inorganic (HBI) constructs have been created to use sunlight, air and water as the only starting materials to accomplish carbon and nitrogen fixation, enabling the establishment of distributed and renewable Fischer-Tropsch and Haber Bosch cycles. The carbon and nitrogen fixation cycles begin with the Artificial Leaf, which was invented to accomplish the solar fuels process of natural photosynthesis—the splitting of water to hydrogen and oxygen using sunlight—under ambient conditions. The hydrogen from the Artificial Leaf may be interfaced with engineered organisms to power the Bionic Leaf-C and Bionic Leaf-N to convert carbon dioxide and nitrogen from air into liquid fuels and ammonia, respectively. The Bionic Leaf-C performs an artificial photosynthesis that is 10-100 times more efficient than the best of natural photosynthesis, with CO2-to-fuels products in addition to biomass. The Bionic-Leaf N is a living biofertilizer that can replace chemical fertilizer; it will be shown for a 400-acre farm, the budget saving of carbon dioxide 154 metric tons while enhancing crop yields with no run-off that is responsible for harmful algal blooms. The science that underpins the Artificial Leaf and Bionic Leaf will be presented. Where are these innovations useful? With an understanding that the underserved populations of our global society, without large energy infrastructures, will largely drive climate change by mid-century, these discoveries are particularly impactful on developing the science that underpins the implementation of distributed energy systems and processes for the poor of the world, where large infrastructures for fuel and food production are not tenable.

Dan Nocera Fall 2023 Ott Lecture 3   Friday, Sept 29

Daniel G. Nocera is the Patterson Rockwood Professor of Energy at Harvard University. Nocera is recognized for his discoveries in renewable energy, originating new paradigms that have defined the field of solar energy conversion and storage. Nocera created the field of proton coupled electron transfer (PCET) at a mechanistic level by making the first measurement that allowed an electron and proton to be timed. On this experimental foundation, he provided the first PCET theory. Within this framework, he is the inventor of the Artificial Leaf and the Bionic Leaf, discoveries set the stage for the large-scale deployment of distributed solar energy for fuels and food production. Complementing his interest in solar energy conversion, Nocera has pioneered the implementation of PCET in radical enzymology, explored photo-/electro- redox catalysis mechanisms for applications in organic synthesis, and designed layered antiferromagnets to explore exotic states arising from highly correlated spins, creating the spin ½ quantum spin liquid on a kagomé lattice, a long-sought prize in condensed matter physics. His group has also created nanocrystal sensors for the metabolic profiling of tumors, a technique used by clinicians to develop new cancer drug therapies. Afield from chemistry, Nocera invented the Molecular Tagging Velocimetry to make simultaneous, multipoint velocity measurements of highly three-dimensional turbulent flows. This fluid physics technique has been employed by the engineering community to solve long-standing and important problems that had previously escaped characterization.

Nocera has been awarded the Leigh Ann Conn Prize for Renewable Energy, Eni Prize, IAPS Award, Burghausen Prize, Elizabeth Wood Award and the United Nation’s Science and Technology Award for his discoveries in renewable energy. On this topic, he has also received the received the Inorganic Chemistry, Harrison Howe, Remsen and Kosolapoff Awards from the American Chemical Society. He has received honorary degrees from Harvard University, Michigan State University and the University of Crete. He is a member of the American Philosophical Society, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the Indian Academy of Sciences, and he is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry. He was named as 100 Most Influential People in the World by Time Magazine and was 11th on the New Statesman’s list on the same topic. He is a frequent guest on TV, radio and is regularly featured in print. His latest feature in Leonardo DiCaprio’s film, “Ice on Fire” premiered at Cannes Film Festival in May 2019 and was released internationally in June 2019.

Nocera began his career at Michigan State University, where he was a University Distinguished Professor and then in 1997 joined the faculty of MIT where he was the Henry Dreyfus Professor of Energy. Nocera has mentored 182 Ph.D. graduate and postdoctoral students, 82 of which have assumed faculty positions, published over 500 papers, given over 1100 invited talks and 138 named lectureships. Nocera founded Sun Catalytix, a company committed to developing energy storage technologies for the widespread implementation of renewable energy; the coordination chemistry flow battery technology invented by Sun Catalytix is now commercialized by Lockheed Martin under the venture, GridStar Flow and allows for large grid scale storage for the widespread adoption of renewable electricity. A second company founded by Nocera, Kula Bio, is focused on the development of a living biofertilizer for renewable and distributed crop production and land restoration.

Previous Ott Lecturers

Vernon Ehlers, Ph.D.
U.S. Congress

Michael D. Parker, M.B.A.
Dow Chemical Company

Carl Djerassi, Ph.D.
Stanford University

Robin D. Rogers, Ph.D.
University of Alabama

Virginia W. Cornish, Ph.D.
Columbia University

Richard N. Zare, Ph.D.
Stanford University

Thomas H. Lane, Ph.D.
Dow Corning Corporation

Chad A. Mirkin, Ph.D.
Northwestern University

Gregory A. Petsko, Ph.D.
Brandeis University

Harry B. Gray, Ph.D.
California Institute of Technology

Gary M. Hieftje, Ph.D.
Indiana University

Roderick MacKinnon, M.D.
Nobel Laureate in Chemistry
The Rockefeller University

Kevan Shokat, Ph.D.
University of California, San Francisco

Ada Yonath, Ph.D.
Nobel Laureate in Chemistry
Weizmann Institute of Science

W. Carl Lineberger, Ph.D.
University of Colorado, Boulder

Richmond Sarpong, Ph.D.
University of California, Berkeley

Jeffrey Moore, Ph.D.
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Wilson Ho, Ph.D.
University of California, Irvine

Geraldine Richmond, Ph.D.
University of Oregon

Sara E. Skrabalak, Ph.D.
Indiana University

Thomas J. Meyer, Ph.D.
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Brian K. Shoichet, Ph.D.
University of California, San Francisco

Daniel M. Neumark, Ph.D.
University of California, Berkeley

Stephen L. Buchwald, Ph.D.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Melanie Sanford, Ph.D.
University of Michigan

Karen Trentelman, Ph.D.
Getty Conservation Institute

Anne McNeil, Ph.D.
University of Michigan

Tom Guarr, Ph.D.
Michigan State University Bioeconomy Institute

Page last modified October 6, 2023