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Burkett Lecture Series

The Burkett Lectures at DePauw University were established in 1986 upon the retirement of Professor Howard Burkett. Their primary purpose is to honor the contributions Professor Burkett made to his students in Organic Chemistry, many of whom have gone on to noteworthy careers in science. The generous contributions of friends and former students provides an opportunity for a nationally known Chemist to visit DePauw, present a seminar, and meet with both students and faculty. As such, the Burkett Lectures are the highlight of the Department of Chemistry seminar program

The 2014 Burkett Lecture Speaker

More information to come soon!

More About  Howard Burkett

 Howard Benton Burkett was bornFebruary 26, 1916 to Zefa Benton and Jennie Margretta Hilljs Burkett on a farm near Morton, Indiana, where he attended a two-room school for eight years. On graduation from Bainbridge High School in 1934, he was awarded a coveted four-year Rector Scholarship to DePauw University, graduating with distinction in 1938. With an Eli Lilly Foundation fellowship, he earned his PhD in Organic Chemistry from the University Wisconsin in 1942.

            Howard began his research career at Eli Lilly on Vitamin A, an urgent need for the war effort. In 1945 he took a 50 percent reduction in income to return to DePauw to teach chemistry and conduct research under four separate grants. He continued teaching at DePauw University from 1945 to 1986, serving as alternating co-chairman of the DPU chemistry department from 1964.

            His sabbatical research included work at the University of Washington in 1954 and 1962, pioneering NMR research for the Hitachi Corporation in Japan in 1970, and at the National Institutes of Health in 1977. Howard and his wife Lucile led a DePauw tour to Japan and often hosted international students.

            During his 41 years of teaching at DePauw he authored over 17 articles in chemical research and received many awards, including Gridiron Best Teacher Award in 1966 and Outstanding Educator of America in 1975. Howard was a charter member of Beta Omicron Chapter of the Honorary Chemical Society, The Indiana Academy of Science, and served as President of the DePauw-Wabash chapter of Sigma Xi.

            Howard was active in Boy Scouts, Kiwanis and his community. A man of strong faith, he had served many terms on the board and in numerous other capacities at First Christian Church. Burkett’s interests, in addition to building his own house on Shadowlawn, were traveling and camping, canoeing, sailing‚ fishing, woodworking, photography, and vegetable gardening. Every summer while his father was alive, Burkett worked on the family farm near Morton.

            On August 4, 1936 Howard married Lucile Eloise Nichols, after their friendship had developed in the trumpet section of the Bainbridge High School band. They had four children: Nancee Dickson (Alfred), Harvey Benton (Troyanne Thigpen), David Howard (Winifred), Richard Allen (Nancy Coffin). Their children, 10 grandchildren, 2 step-grandchildren, and 18 great-grandchildren live in Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Texas, California, Michigan, Massachusetts, Louisiana, Florida, New York, Illinois, and Turkey. Howard passed from this life at Asbury Towers in Greencastle, Indiana on June 15, 2009 at the age of 93 years.

Howard Burkett with Percy Lavon Julian, 1970

Howard Burkett with student, 1955



Howard Burkett in Lab, 1952

Prior Burkett Speakers

2013
Teshik Yoon (University of Wisconsin) Photocatalysis with Visible Light and Chemistry IS a Liberal Art:  An Argument for the Unity of Science and the Humanities

2011
Jon Thorson (University of Wisconsin) Sweetening Drugs via Glycorandomization and How Bacteria Produce and Control Chemical Weapons: Enediyne Biosynthesis and Self Resistance

2008
David R. Williams (Indiana University) The Fusion of Art and Science: The Natural World of Organic Chemistry and Drugs from the Sea Inspirations for Innovation in Organic Chemistry

2007
A. Douglas Kinghorn (Ohio State University) Small-Molecule Natural Products Used as Therapeutic Agents and Plant-Derived Compounds to Combat Cancer

2006
Melanie Sanford (University of Michigan) Exploiting the Power of Transition metal Catalyzed Reactions in Synthetic organic Chemistry and Pd(II/IV) Catalytic Cycles in Organic Synthesis: From Myth to Reality

2003
Tomas Hudlicky (Brock University)
title not available

2001
Chaitan Khosla (Stanford University) Current and Future Trends in Natural Product Drug Discovery

2000
Greg Petsko (Brandeis University) Structural Biology in 4-Dimensions: The Catalytic Pathway of Cytochrome P450 at Atomic Resolution and Bridged Bimetallic Enzymes: Why Two Heads Are Better Than One

1998
Barbara Timmermann (University of Arizona) Natural Products Discovery, Biodiversity Conservation and Economic Development: Building Novel Alliances and Prevention of Photocarcinogenesis by Catechins From Green Tea

1997
Ken Kirk (NIH)  The BioOrganic Chemistry of Fluorine Containing Compounds

1996
Stephen Byrn (Purdue University) 
The Intersection of Laws, Regulations, and Scientific Principles
and Pharmaceutical Materials Science

1995
Eric Block (SUNY Albany)  Chemistry in a Salad Bowl: the Organosulfur Chemistry of Garlic and Onion and Chemistry in a Salad Bowl Part 2: Organoselenium Compounds in Nature

1994
Eric Silverman (University of Illinois at Chicago) The Organic Chemistry of Drug Design and Drug Action and Radical Thoughts about the Life and Death of MAO (Monoamine Oxidase)

1993
Bill Roush (Indiana University) 
Acyclic Diastereoselective via Allylboron Chemistry and Cycloadaddition Reactions in Organic Chemisty: Strategies for Synthesis Simplification

  1991
David Evans (Harvard University)  Studies in Asymmetric Synthesis and Approaches to the Synthesis of Polypropionate Natural Products

1990
John Cassady (Ohio State University) Approaches to the Discovery of Natural Antineoplastic Agents and Novel Enzymatic Targets for Drug Design

  1989
Dale Boger (Purdue University)  
Inverse Electron Demand Diels-Alder Reactions
and Synthetic Antitumor-Antibiotics

 1988
Leo Paquette (Ohio State University)  Natural Product Synthesis and Dodecahedrane   

1987
Nelson Leonard (University of Illinois)    Fluorescent and Dimensional Probes of Enzyme-Coenzyme Binding Sites and Covalently Linked DNA/RNA Double Helical Cross Sections

1986
Barry Trost (University of Wisconsin) The Chemist’s Enzymes: Tools for Selectivity