Ullyot Public Affairs Lecture

Bruce Alberts

Bruce Alberts. Photo ©Tom Kochel.

2015 Lecturer: Bruce Alberts

On November 17, 2015, Bruce Alberts, the Chancellor’s Leadership Chair in Biochemistry and Biophysics for Science and Education at the University of California, San Francisco, delivered the 26th annual Ullyot Public Affairs Lecture at the Chemical Heritage Foundation in Philadelphia.

Redefining Science Education

We all agree that science education is important—but what if we’re going about it the wrong way? Bruce Alberts, known as “the education president” of the National Academy of Sciences, has big ideas on redefining science education. 

Alberts, a prominent biochemist and one of the country’s most passionate voices for science education, believes the central purpose of education is empowering students to learn how to learn on their own. Rather than simply conveying what science has discovered about the natural world, we need to empower all students by giving them the knowledge and practice of thinking like a scientist. These skills are essential to citizens in a democracy.

About the speaker

Bruce Alberts, a prominent biochemist with a strong commitment to the improvement of science and mathematics education, is the Chancellor’s Leadership Chair in Biochemistry and Biophysics for Science and Education at the University of California, San Francisco. He took that position in 2005 after serving two six-year terms as the president of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). From 2008 to 2013 he also served as editor in chief of Science.

While at the NAS, Alberts led development of the landmark National Science Education standards subsequently implemented in school systems nationwide. From 2000 to 2009 he served as the cochair of the InterAcademy Council in Amsterdam, governed by the heads of 15 national academies of sciences and established to provide scientific advice to the world. In 2014 he was awarded the National Medal of Science by President Barack Obama, and from 2009 to 2011 he served as one of Obama’s first three Science Envoys. He is also one of the original authors of The Molecular Biology of the Cell, a preeminent textbook in the field now in its sixth edition.

Alberts received a bachelor’s degree in biochemical sciences in 1960 from Harvard College and a PhD in 1965 from Harvard University.

About the Ullyot Public Affairs Lecture

The Ullyot Public Affairs Lecture was established in 1990 to emphasize to the general public the positive role that the chemical and molecular sciences play in our lives. Ullyot lectures are held annually and are open to the public. Ullyot lecturers are distinguished in their fields, nationally recognized, and able to communicate to a nonscientific audience.

The Ullyot Public Affairs Lecture is jointly sponsored by the Chemical Heritage Foundation, the Department of Chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania, the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of the Sciences, and the Philadelphia Section and Delaware Section of the American Chemical Society.

About Glenn Edgar Ullyot

Glenn Edgar Ullyot earned a BS in chemistry from the University of Minnesota and an MS and a PhD in chemistry from the University of Illinois. During a successful 38-year career with SmithKline & French Laboratories (now GlaxoSmithKline), Ullyot progressed through several stages of responsibility, from bench chemist to director of scientific liaison.

Ullyot’s primary scientific interests were with medicinal chemistry, therapeutic agents, and their biological activity. He published many papers, received patents on numerous compounds, and played a significant role in the development of several products, including Benzidrex, a nonstimulating analog of the inhaler Benzidrine, and Diazide, a diuretic agent for the treatment of high blood pressure.

Ullyot was an active member of and leader in the American Chemical Society for more than 60 years and served on several important U.S. governmental committees. Owing to his deep commitment to education, he established the Ullyot Public Affairs Lecture, stating, “Chemistry, biology, and physics are the basic sciences that are keys to understanding the world around us. It is my hope that each Ullyot lecturer will increasingly stimulate more people to appreciate the positive impact these sciences and the people who pursue them have on our daily lives.”

Ullyot lecturers are distinguished in their fields, nationally recognized, and able to communicate to a wide audience.

Past Ullyot Lecturers:

To learn more about past lectures, click here.

Past Ullyot Lectures

Click here to find past Ullyot Public Affairs Lecturers and their topics.

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