Dr. William Evans

“The Importance of Questioning Scientific Assumptions: Lessons From the Rare Earth Metals and the Actinides”

September 12, 2014

William Evans received a B.S. from the University of Wisconsin, where he did research on pentaboranes with Professor Donald Gaines, and a Ph.D. from UCLA with Professor Fred Hawthorne studying metallocarboranes. He did postdoctoral studies in transition metal chemistry with the late Professor Earl Muetterties at Cornell University. When he began his independent career in 1975 at the University of Chicago, he chose an area of research completely different from his training and experience, namely the chemistry of the rare earth metals and actinides. After receiving tenure at Chicago in 1982, he was recruited to the University of California, Irvine. He has received the American Chemical Society Award in Inorganic Chemistry, the American Chemical Society Award in Organometallic Chemistry, the Sir Edward Franklin Award of the Royal Society of Chemistry in England, the Frank Spedding Award for Excellence in the Science and Technology of Rare Earths, the Terrae Rarae Award of the Tage der Seltenen Erden Society in Germany, the UCI Physical Sciences Outstanding Contributions to Undergraduate Education Award, and the UCI Distinguished Faculty Award for Research.


3:30pm-4:30pm 103 Schlundt Hall

As scientists we know that we should constantly question the assumptions upon which our research is based. We also know that we do not do this often enough. This lecture will serve to remind us not to take the traditional boundaries of any area of chemistry for granted. Recent results with the rare earth metals and uranium and thorium will be presented that show how the “rules” in an area, thought to be true for decades, can be overturned. Examples will be presented that challenge previous ideas on topics as fundamental as redox chemistry, bond lengths, and electron configurations. New ways of doing reductive chemistry will be discussed as well as the discovery of new oxidation states in the periodic table.

4:30pm-5:30pm Reception, Memorial Union N214/215