Past Ralph Connor Memorial Lecturers

The Ralph Connor Memorial Lecture was created by the Chemical Heritage Foundation to showcase periodic addresses on the role of research in the development of technology and industry by eminent practitioners in the chemical and molecular sciences. Below is the list of individuals who have delivered the lecture since 2001.

2015–2016 | Venkatachalam “Ram” Ramaswamy

The disciplines of atmospheric chemistry and climate had fairly independent tracks of growth till about the mid-20th century. Since then the two have seen a gradual intertwining owing to discoveries of the processes originating in one field having an influence on the other. With the growth in the chemical and climate sciences over the 20th century, there has been intensive research involving measurements and mathematical models, which has spawned a rich array of findings about the outcomes of these interconnections.

Using observations from several platforms and state-of-the-art numerical models of the global climate system rooted in fundamental scientific principles, Ramaswamy discussed how and what we are learning about how the climate system is influenced by atmospheric chemistry. He also discussed the current scientific understanding and uncertainties, and investigate how atmospheric chemistry can further influence climate and vice versa in the future.

Venkatachalam “Ram” Ramaswamy has been director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) since 2008. He is also a lecturer with the rank of professor in the Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences Program and the Princeton Environmental Institute at Princeton University. Ramaswamy got his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in physics from Delhi University, and a PhD in atmospheric sciences from the State University of New York at Albany in 1982. He was a fellow in the Advanced Study Program at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (Boulder, Colorado) before joining NOAA/GFDL in 1985. His primary interests are the numerical modeling of the global climate system based on fundamental scientific principles, advancing the understanding of atmospheric physics and chemistry and related processes in climate, and investigating the climatic variations and changes due to natural and human-influenced factors. At GFDL he directs one of the world’s premier climate research and modeling centers, with the mission to develop and apply advanced numerical models for understanding global and regional climate, and for making predictions and projections of climate. This research is providing state-of-the-science inputs for climate impact assessments and decision-making concerning adaptation and mitigation.

Ramaswamy has published over 160 papers on atmospheric sciences and climate in refereed journals and has been a lead author on several international and national scientific assessments. He was coordinating lead author of chapters in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Third and Fourth Assessments (2001 and 2007), a review editor on the IPCC Fifth Assessment (2013), and coauthor of the IPCC Summary for Policymakers on the 2001, 2007, and 2013 reports. He has served on the Joint Scientific Committee, including being vice chair, of the World Climate Research Program (2003−2010). Ramaswamy has received numerous honors from around the world and was a member of the IPCC team that was a corecipient of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.

2014–2015 | Jeffrey A. Johnson

The 2014–2015 Ralph Connor Memorial Lecture was delivered by Jeffrey A. Johnson, professor, Department of History, Villanova University, and president of the Commission on the History of Modern Chemistry within the history division of the International Union of History and Philosophy of Science, at the March 2015 meeting of the Joseph Priestley Society.

Jeffrey Allan Johnson began his studies at Rice University intending to major in chemistry, but a bit of time in the laboratory convinced him to try another approach. He completed a European history doctorate at Princeton University with a dissertation on the founding of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Chemistry, which became The Kaiser’s Chemists: Science and Modernization in Imperial Germany (University of North Carolina Press, 1990). Little did grad student Johnson imagine that this topic would in 2012 make him a keynote speaker at the centenary of today’s Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz.

In 1986 Johnson began teaching in the Department of History at Villanova University, making contact with the modest Center for History of Chemistry at Penn led by the outside reader for his dissertation, Arnold Thackray. This Penn center was the nucleus of what became CHF. In the summer of 1989 Johnson finished the research for his book with a two-month exchange fellowship beyond the Berlin Wall, shortly before some of his new East German friends would help tear that wall down. Since then Johnson has continued his research on German chemical history ca. 1865-1945, publishing on professional societies and academic institutions, education and quantum chemistry under the Nazis, women in chemistry, the academic-industrial symbiosis, chemical warfare, and the shaping of national science policy. He is joint author of German Industry and Global Enterprise—BASF: The History of a Company (Cambridge University Press, 2004), coeditor of Frontline and Factory:  Comparative Perspectives on the Chemical Industry at War, 1914-1924 (Springer, 2006), and guest editor of “Chemistry in the Aftermath of World Wars” (Ambix 58/2 [July 2011]). Since 2010 Johnson has been president of the Commission on the History of Modern Chemistry within the history division of the International Union of History and Philosophy of Science, a sister organization to IUPAC.

2013–2014 | K’Lynne Johnson

The 2013–2014 Ralph Connor Memorial Lecture was delivered by K’Lynne Johnson, CEO and president, Elevance Renewable Sciences, at the May 2014 meeting of the Joseph Priestley Society.

K’Lynne Johnson has over 20 years’ experience working within the oil and petrochemicals industry for Amoco, BP, and Innovene. During this time she has worked in a variety of roles, including general business management, e-commerce, supply-chain optimization, human resources management, strategy development, leadership development, and organizational design and effectiveness. Before assuming her current role as CEO of Elevance, Johnson was the senior vice president of the Global Derivatives operating company within BP Innovene, one of the world’s largest global petrochemical and refining companies. In this role Johnson’s responsibilities included profit-and-loss accountability for multiple global commodity and specialty chemicals businesses with revenues of $3 billion.

Johnson was formerly a director of TPC Group Inc. and currently serves on the Board of Trustees for the Morton Arboretum, the Board of Directors of the Illinois Biotechnology Industry Organization Institute, and the Board of Directors for Women in Biotech. She received a master’s degree in organizational behavior from Brigham Young University’s Marriott School of Management and a bachelor’s degree in organizational psychology.

2012–2013 | Robert L. Stoll

The 2012–2013 Ralph Connor Memorial Lecture was delivered by Robert L. Stoll, partner, Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP Intellectual Property Practice Group, and former commissioner for patents, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, at the February 2013 meeting of the Joseph Priestley Society.

Robert L. Stoll is a partner on the patent team at Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP. As the former USPTO commissioner for patents, Stoll was instrumental in the passage of landmark patent legislation, the America Invents Act, and was lauded for his efforts to reduce patent pendency and improve patent quality. He has spent his career improving the intellectual property system and educating the public, applicants, corporations, and foreign governments on the criticality of intellectual property to economic growth and job creation.

The 2012 recipient of Managing Intellectual Property magazine’s lifetime achievement in intellectual property award, Stoll has a deep understanding of domestic and foreign intellectual property law. He was instrumental in the development and analysis of legislation concerning all areas of intellectual property and was one of the country’s leaders in establishing the U.S. government’s positions on international issues related to intellectual property.

Stoll holds a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Maryland and earned his law degree from Catholic University while working at the USPTO.

2011–2012 | Steven Deutsch

The 2011–2012 Ralph Connor Memorial Lecture was delivered by JSteven Deutsch, business development and marketing manager, Rhodia Rare Earth Systems, at the May 2012 meeting of the Joseph Priestley Society.

After a brief postdoctoral appointment at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Steven Deutsch joined Rhone-Poulenc in 1996, performing research on rare earth-based materials for emissions control catalysis. Since then, he has worked on additional applications such as phosphors, polishing powders, polymerization catalysts, feed additives and polymer reinforcement. He has held positions of increasing responsibility with Rhone-Poulenc and Rhodia Rare Earth Systems. Steve holds a PhD in Chemical Engineering from the University of Delaware and is the coauthor on 14 papers and patents.

2010–2011 | Jerome A. Peribere

The 2010–2011 Ralph Connor Memorial Lecture was delivered by Jerome A. Peribere, executive vice president of The Dow Chemical Company and president and CEO of Dow Advanced Materials, at the March 2011 meeting of the Joseph Priestley Society.

Peribere is a corporate officer of The Dow Chemical Company and serves on the Executive Leadership Council. Peribere joined Dow in France in 1977 as a sales representative in Specialty Chemicals. He began working in the agricultural business in 1982 when he was named regional marketing manager of Eastern Europe. He moved to Geneva in 1985 as regional manager for the Middle East and Africa, and became European agricultural business director for Dow in 1988. In 1989 he was appointed commercial director of Europe for Dow’s agricultural business. Peribere moved to Indianapolis in 1993 to assume the position of global commercial director. He became the corporate strategy leader for Dow AgroSciences in 1997, and in 1998 was named vice president, Weed Management Global Business Unit and European Trade Area. In September 2002 he became vice president, Agricultural Chemicals, and later president and chief executive officer of Dow AgroSciences. In May 2007 he was elected to the board of directors of Harris Financial Corporation in Chicago. He is also a member of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce and serves on the board of directors for the United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania. Peribere received a master’s degree in business economics and finance from the Institut d’Etudes Politiques in Paris. 

2009–2010 | Stephen S. Tang

The 2009–2010 Ralph Connor Memorial Lecture was delivered by Stephen S. Tang, president and CEO of the University City Science Center, at the February 2010 meeting of the Joseph Priestley Society. Tang became president and CEO of the Science Center, the nation’s oldest and largest urban research park, in February 2008. He is the first president in the Science Center’s 47-year history who has led a company through venture funding and an initial public offering and also served as a senior executive with a large life-sciences company.

Tang served as group vice president and general manager with Olympus America, where he led U.S. operations for the company’s $1 billion global Life Science businesses. Before joining Olympus in 2005, he was president and CEO of Millennium Cell. Previously he served as vice president and managing director of the global pharmaceutical and healthcare practice of A.T. Kearney, and he was vice president and co-managing director of the global chemical and environmental practice for Gemini Consulting, now known as Cap Gemini.

Tang earned a doctorate in chemical engineering from Lehigh University, an MBA from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, and a BS in chemistry from the College of William and Mary.

2008–2009 | Joseph A. Miller, Jr.

The 2008-2009 Ralph Connor Memorial Lecture was delivered by Joseph A. Miller, Jr., executive vice president and chief technology officer of Corning Incorporated, at the October 2008 meeting of the Joseph Priestley Society. Miller discussed the role of R&D in a company that grows through innovation in a lecture entitled “Growth through New Product Innovation—The Challenge of Balancing the Pipeline.”

Miller retired from DuPont as chief technology officer and then joined Corning Incorporated in July 2001. He was named to his current position in March 2002. He began his career with DuPont in 1966 as a research chemist in polymer science. He also held a variety of positions in research and development, manufacturing, business, and marketing. Miller received a bachelor of science degree from Virginia Military Institute and a doctorate in chemistry from Penn State University. He is a member of numerous science and technology organizations, including the National Academy of Engineering and the Industrial Research Institute, and he is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He is on the board of directors of Greatbatch, Inc., and Dow Corning.

2007–2008 | James P. Landers

The 2007-2008 Ralph Connor Memorial Lecture was delivered by James P. Landers, professor of chemistry, associate professor of pathology, and professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Virginia, at the January 2008 meeting of the Joseph Priestley Society. Landers focused on microfluidic systems in a lecture entitled “Integrated Microfluidic Genetic Analysis for Forensic Analysis.”

Landers received both a BSc and a PhD in biochemistry from the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada. He was a Canadian Medical Research Council Fellow under Thomas Spelsberg at the Mayo Clinic, studying cancer biology and diagnostics. His research efforts over the last decade have focused on microfluidic-based analytical systems with the goal of developing the next-generation genetic analysis platform for molecular diagnostics. In addition to editing all three editions of the Handbook of Capillary Electrophoresis, he has authored more than 175 peer-reviewed papers and 25 book chapters on topics that range from receptor biochemistry and capillary electrophoretic method development to microchip fabrication and integrated microfluidic systems for application in the clinical and forensic arenas.

2005–2006 | Ross Armbrecht

Ross Armbrecht is the executive director of the Delaware Foundation for Science and Mathematics Education. He delivered the 2005–2006 Ralph Connor Memorial Lecture at the April 2006 meeting of the Joseph Priestley Society at CHF. Armbrecht shared the experiences of Industrial Research Institute (IRI) members in laboratories in China as examples of a nation at the receiving end of globalization and its rapid growth of foreign direct investment in R&D. He also discussed corroborative data from a recent survey by the National Academies, completed and released to Congress.

2004–2005 | P. Roy Vagelos

P. Roy Vagelos is former chairman and CEO of Merck and Company. He delivered the 2004-2005 Ralph Connor Memorial Lecture at the March 2005 meeting of the Joseph Priestley Society at CHF. Vagelos spoke on the highs and lows of the pharmaceutical industry, specifically about what has caused the recent drop in the reputation of pharmaceutical companies, and about what the future holds for this industry.

Vagelos served as chief executive officer of Merck for nine years, from 1985 to 1994. He was first elected to the Board of Directors in 1984 and served as its chairman from 1986 to 1994. During his tenure as CEO, Merck was named “the most admired corporation in America” for three years in a row by Fortune magazine. Vagelos is the author of Medicine, Science and Merck.

2003–2004, John W. Caldwell

“Using the Orange, Seeking the Green, and Helping the Red, White, and Blue: Patent Challenges and Opportunities in Pharmaceutical Business”

John W. Caldwell is a partner in Woodcock Washburn, the largest intellectual property firm in the tri-state area of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. He is a chair of the firm’s patent prosecution and client counseling practice group and specializes in startup business development, patent prosecution, counseling, and licensing, especially in the biotech, chemical, and pharmaceutical arenas. He has established a national reputation for assisting in the transfer of technology from academic institutions to companies so that the technology may be developed into tangible, viable products. He has also been instrumental in securing patent protection for new families of nucleic acid–active drugs; microchip devices that use light rather than electricity; combinatorial drug chemistry; radiographic imaging; sensors for pollution abatement; and new drugs and diagnostics for the treatment of AIDS, cancer, and other diseases.

Caldwell is active in the Philadelphia Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts, the American Intellectual Property Law Association (where he serves as president), the American Chemical Association, and other national associations for patent, copyright, and trademark law. He holds a BA in chemistry from Rice University, an MA in chemistry from Johns Hopkins University, and a JD from Villanova School of Law.

2001 | Alan G. MacDiarmid

Alan G. MacDiarmid, the Blanchard Professor of Chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania, shared the 2000 Nobel Prize in chemistry with Alan J. Heeger and Hideki Shirakawa “for the discovery and development of conductive polymers.” The award recognized a remarkable discovery—that under the right circumstances plastic can be made to behave very like a metal, to conduct electricity—a breakthrough that opened the door to a range of polymer-based electronics that can be produced quickly and cheaply. These products may also be a stepping-stone to real molecular-scale electronics, perhaps the next great advance of the computer age

MacDiarmid has received numerous other awards, including the 1999 Award in Materials Chemistry from the American Chemical Society, the Chemical Pioneer Award from the American Institute of Chemists, and the John Scott Award from the City of Philadelphia. He holds more than 28 patents and is the author or coauthor of approximately 600 research papers.


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