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Lowrie Lecture I - Pablo Debenedetti

Professor, Department of Chemical & Biological Engineering, Vice Dean, School of Engineering and Applied Science, Princeton
Thursday, May 24, 2012, 10:30 am
E0004 Scott Lab
201 W 19th Avenue
Columbus, OH 43210

The Theory of Hydrophobicity: Some Recent Developments on a Venerable Subject



The water-mediated tendency of non-polar units to aggregate underlies basic human activities, such as washing, and microscopic natural phenomena, such as protein folding and the formation of biological membranes. Although many aspects of the theory of hydrophobicity are well-understoon, important questions remain. These include the behavior of water near geometrically and chemically complex surfaces; the interplay of kinetics and thermodynamics in controlling hydrophobically-induced dtrying of nano-scale cavities, and its possible role in biological self-assembly; and the collapse mechanisms of hydrophobic polymers in water. I will illustrate recent progress in fundamental understanding of these questions through the application of meodern computational methods.


Pablo Debenedetti is the Class of 1950 Professor in Engineering and Applied Science, Professor of chemical and Biological Engineering, and Vice Dean of the School o Engineering and Applied Science at Princeton University. He received his undergraduate education at the University of Buenos Aires, and in 1985 obtained his Ph.D. degree in chemical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Debenedetti's research interests include the thermodynamics and statistical mechanics of liquids and glasses; the structure and thermodynamics of water and aqueous solutions; protein thermodynamics; the theory of nucleation; and metsatbility. He is the author of one book, Metastable Liquids, and more than 200 scientific articles. Metastable Liquids was named "best scholarly book in Chemistry by the Association of American Publishers (1997). Debenedetti's professional honors include the National Science Foundation's Presidential Young Investigator Award (1987), the Camille and Henry Dryfus Teacher-Scholar Award (1989), a Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship (1991), the Professional Progress (1997) and Walker (2008) Awards from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, the John M. Prausnitz Award in Applied Chemical Thermodynamics (2001), the Joel Henry Hildebrand Award in the Theoretical and Experimental Chemistry of Liquids from the American Chemical Society (2008), the Distinguished Teacher Award from Princeton's School of Engineering (2008), and the President's Award for Distinguished Teaching (2008), Princeton's highest distinction for teaching. In 2008 Debenedetti was named one of 100 Chemical Engineers of the MOdern Era by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.