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April 4, 2013

Did You Know?: Wetherill historic chemical landmark dedication

Wetherill landmark

Purdue's R.B. Wetherill Laboratory of Chemistry building will be dedicated as one of the American Chemical Society's historic chemical landmarks on April 26. (Photo courtesy of the Department of Chemistry)
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Purdue's R.B. Wetherill Laboratory of Chemistry building will be dedicated as one of the American Chemical Society's historic chemical landmarks on April 26.

Timothy Sands, executive vice president for academic affairs and provost, and Marinda Li Wu, president of the American Chemical Society, will speak at the celebration. It will be held at 4 p.m. on the building's south steps.

The event is free and open to the public, but registration is requested at www.chem.purdue.edu/wetherill. A reception will immediately follow the ceremony.

The American Chemical Society selected the building for this honor because of its more than 80 years of service as a center for chemical education and research in the United States, and because of the advances made there by generations of chemists, chemical engineers and renowned faculty.

The society will present a commemorative plaque and distribute a commemorative booklet at the dedication ceremony. In addition, Wetherill Laboratory of Chemistry will be featured on the society's landmarks website.

The Wetherill building has been home to the work of several renowned faculty members, including Nobel laureates Herbert C. Brown and Ei-ichi Negishi.

Negishi won the 2010 Nobel Prize in chemistry for developing chemical reactions that allow for easy and efficient synthesis of complex organic compounds. Such compounds are used in everything from pharmaceuticals to electronics.

Brown won the 1979 Nobel Prize in chemistry for his work with boron compounds. His work opened new avenues in academic and industrial chemistry, and his work is used in the synthesis of many medications to this day.

The Wetherill building is named for local physician and lecturer Dr. Richard Benbridge Wetherill. It was constructed in phases between 1928 and 1955. More information about the history of the Department of Chemistry is available at www.chem.purdue.edu/about_us/facts.asp.

The American Chemical Society gives historic chemical landmark status to buildings where seminal achievements in the history of chemistry took place, including discoveries, bodies of work and advances. The achievements must have occurred at least 25 years ago and have had significant impact and benefit to society and the chemical profession.

Society members nominate prospective landmarks and an international committee of chemists, chemical engineers, museum curators and science and technology historians evaluates each nomination.

The R.B. Wetherill Laboratory of Chemistry joins three other American Chemical Society historic chemical landmarks in Indiana. They are at the Percy L. Julian Science and Mathematics Center at DePauw University in Greencastle, the Clabber Girl headquarters in Terre Haute and the Miles Laboratories in Elkhart.

The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress, and it is the world's largest scientific society. The society has declared more than 60 places, discoveries and achievements historic chemical landmarks.

Writer: Elizabeth Gardner, 49-42081, ekgardner@purdue.edu