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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 2019 Burkett Lecture Series

Tuesday 12 November 2019

4:00 p.m.: Transition-Metal Oxos/Nitridos as the Lewis Basic Component of Frustrated Lewis Pairs

Tuesday 13 November 2019

11:30 a.m.Integrating Computational and Experimental Methods in Undergraduate and Graduate Research


Professor Elon Ison headshot

Prof.  Elon Ison

North Carolina State University

Elon Ison received his B.S. degree (Kean University) in 1999 and his Ph.D. in Organometallic Chemistry in 2004 (University of Florida), and pursued post-doctoral studies at Purdue. In 2006, he began his independent research career in the area  at North Carolina State University in the area of Catalysis/ Organometallic Chemistry. He received the ORAU Ralph E Powe Award, in 2009, the NSF CAREER Award in 2010 and was named an Organometallics Fellow in 2012.


More About Howard Burkett

Howard Burkett from 1986 in black and white

 Howard Benton Burkett was born February 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 Percy Lavon Julian, 1970

Howard Burkett with student, 1955

Howard Burkett with student, 1955

Howard Burkett in Lab, 1952

Howard Burkett in Lab, 1952

Prior Burkett Speakers

John Sutherland
(Cambridge University)

Neil Garg
(University of CA- Los Angeles)

Richmond Sarpong
(University of CA- Berkeley)

Dawn Chapman
(University of CA- Davis)

M. Christina White

Catherine Jackson

Martin Burke

Vy Dong
(University of CA-Irvine)

Tehshik Yoon

Jon Thorson

David Williamson (Indiana)

A. Douglas Kinghorn
(Ohio State)

Melanie Sanford

Tomas Hudlicky

Chaitan Khosla
(Stanford University)

Greg Petsko (Brandeis University)

Barbara Timmermann
(University of Arizona)

Ken Kirk (NIH)  

Stephen Byrn (Purdue University) 

Eric Block (SUNY Albany) 

Eric Silverman
(University of Illinois at Chicago)

Bill Roush (Indiana University) 

David Evans (Harvard University) 

John Cassady (Ohio State University) 

Dale Boger (Purdue University)  

Leo Paquette (Ohio State University)    

Nelson Leonard
(University of Illinois)   

Barry Trost (University of Wisconsin)