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Middlebury College's William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor of Chemistry James Larrabee to deliver inaugural lecture

January 4, 2006

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. - James Larrabee, who was appointed by Middlebury College President Ronald D. Liebowitz as the William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor of Chemistry on July 1, 2005, will deliver his inaugural lecture on Thursday, Jan. 12, at 4:15 p.m. in Room 216 of McCardell Bicentennial Hall. His talk, titled "A Spectroscopist's View of Metals in Biology," is intended for a general audience and will highlight Larrabee's research of several different spectroscopic techniques used to study metallo-proteins. The lecture is free and open to the public.

"For over 30 years - the last 19 of which included collaboration with Middlebury students - my research has involved shining 'light' on a protein that contains metal and seeing what happens," explains Larrabee. "We've hit the metals with lasers, pounded them with X-rays, and probed them with infrared radiation. We've vaporized them, frozen them, and put them in magnetic fields. In short, we had a lot of fun, and also learned a thing or two about the structure and function of these complicated and fascinating molecules."

Larrabee obtained a bachelor of science from Trinity College and a doctorate from Princeton University. He worked for Exxon Research and Engineering Company as a research chemist before joining the Middlebury faculty in 1986. His area of research specialization is bioinorganic chemistry, which is the study of biological molecules that contain or react with metallic elements. His most recent work is in the application of magnetic circular dichroism and cobalt substitution to probe the electronic and physical structure of zinc enzyme active sites.

The William R. Kenan Jr. endowed professorship was established in1975 by trustees of the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust to support professors who have intellectual vigor and outstanding talents for excellence in teaching. A North Carolina native, Kenan was a gifted engineer and chemist, astute and resourceful businessman and a great philanthropist with a deep commitment to and belief in education. He traveled throughout the region to attend to his wide-ranging business interests in railroads, real estate, and the Standard Oil Company. Kenan established a substantial charitable trust to focus and extend the Kenan family's philanthropy. After his death in 1965, the Kenan Trust sought to promote his strong interest in enhancing student-teacher relationships at prominent educational institutions through the creation of chairs in his memory. The William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust has endowed 56 professorships at a number of colleges and universities, including Middlebury. 

McCardell Bicentennial Hall is located on Bicentennial Way off College Street (Route 125).