the other McLafferty rearrangement

January 28, 2008 at 9:10 pm | | science community, seminars

Fred McLafferty spoke today for our Student-Hosted Physical-Chemistry Seminar series; and I had the fortune of joining a few other grad students for dinner with this great scientist. He is a really friendly guy and he has tons of energy.

He was also very quick-witted. At one point in his talk, when he was discussing a cleavage along the backbone of a protein, a typo in one of his slides tripped him up:


He immediate came back with, “Oops, that’s from when I practiced my slides on my son’s Mac; the computer must have replaced that carbon with a nitrogen!”


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  1. I love the fact that in the list of his awards the first one listed is the Purple Heart (among other combat awards). Granted, the list is probably chronological, but it is valuable to realize some of these great scientists also fought for our country.

    Sadly, one must conclude that we have lost many potentially great scientists because of war or because of the things the war was meant to end (genocide comes to mind).

    Comment by Chemgeek — January 28, 2008 #

  2. that’s a good point, Chemgeek. at dinner, we started complaining that we have wait so many years until we can start our real lives—with 5 years of grad school plus 3 years of postdoc plus 5 years getting tenure. McLafferty’s response was: “I spend three years in the Army.” that gave us perspective! :)
    on that subject, i know at least one scientist we’ve lost in the current war: Marine Lt. Ryan McGlothlin left chemistry with a masters to defend our country. i know the iraq war does not compare to WWII (except in duration and maybe funding), but i want to acknowledge those we’ve lost more recently.

    Comment by sam — January 28, 2008 #

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