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Letters to a Young Chemist

Abhik Ghosh (Editor), Stephen J. Lippard (Foreword by)

ISBN: 978-1-118-00709-9 March 2011 250 Pages


What’s it really like to be a chemist?

Leading chemists share what they do, how they do it, and why they love it.

“Letters to a young …” has been a much-loved way for professionals in a field to convey their enthusiasm and the realities of what they do to the next generation. Now, Letters to a Young Chemist does the same for the chemical sciences. Written with a humorous touch by some of today’s leading chemists, this book presents missives to “Angela,” a fictional undergraduate considering a career in chemistry. The different chapters offer a mix of fundamental principles, contemporary issues, and challenges for the future. Marye Anne Fox, Chancellor of the University of California San Diego, talks about learning to do research and modern physical organic chemistry. Brothers Jonathan and Daniel Sessler explain the chemistry of anesthetics that make modern surgery possible while Elizabeth Nolan talks about biological imaging. Terry Collins talks about green chemistry, a more sustainable way of doing chemistry, while several authors including Carl Wamser, Harry Gray, John Magyar, and Penny Brothers discuss the crucial contributions that chemists can make in meeting global energy needs.

Letters to a Young Chemist gives students and professionals alike a unique window into the real world of chemistry. Entertaining, informative, and full of honest and inspiring advice, it serves as a helpful guide throughout your education and career.

“The different chapters describe both the wonders of the molecular world and the practical benefits afforded by chemistry ... and if any girl out there thinks that chemistry is a man’s world, this book should be a good antidote.” —Marye Anne Fox, Chancellor of the University of California, San Diego, and winner of the 2009 US National Medal of Science

“Letters to a Young Chemist offers significant ammunition for motivating young people to consider chemistry as a career. ... This book should also be required reading for all faculty members who teach chemistry in high schools, colleges, and universities.” —Stephen J. Lippard, Arthur Amos Noyes Professor of Chemistry, Massachusetts  Institute of Technology, and winner of the 2006 US National Medal of Science

FOREWORD (Stephen J. Lippard).



Part I From Fundamentals to Applications.

1. Let's Get Physical (Marye Anne Fox).

2. In Silico: An Alternate Approach to Chemistry and Biology (David A. Case).

3. The Purple Planet: A Short Tour of Porphyrins and Related Macrocycles (Abhik Ghosh).

4. Anesthesia: Don't Forget Your Chemistry (Jonathan L. Sessler and Daniel I. Sessler).

5. The Green Evolution (Terrence J. Collins).

Part II Chemistry and the Life Sciences.

6. Thinking Like an Enzyme (Judith P. Klinman).

7. Making Sense of Oxygen (Marie-Alda Gilles-Gonzalez).

8. Let’s Visualize Biology: Chemistry and Cellular Imaging (Elizabeth M. Nolan).

9. Bioinorganic Chemistry: Show Your Mettle by Meddling with Metals (Kara L. Bren).

10. Better Than Sliced Bread (Chaitan Khosla).

11. Choreographing DNA (Cynthia J. Burrows).

Part III Functional Materials.

12. Supramolecules to the Rescue! (Seth M. Cohen).

13. Biomaterials at the Beach: How Marine Biology Uses Chemistry to Make Materials (Jonathan J. Wilker).

14. The Advantage of Being Small: Nanotechnology (Michael J. Sailor).

Part IV Chemistry and Energy.

15. Happy Campers: Chemists' Solutions to Energy Problems (Penelope J. Brothers).

16. Clean Electrons and Molecules Will Save the World (Carl C. Wamser).

17. Metals, Microbes, and Solar Fuel (Harry B. Gray and John S. Magyar).


“Therefore, this book is a useful tool for faculty mentoring students in a chemistry club, or even using the book in courses on careers or professionalism in chemistry.”  (Journal of Chemical Education, 11 June 2012)

"Finally this book helps teachers and scholars at universities to get ideas how to think about their own research fields in order to motivate young students and to wake enthusiasm for the wonderful and widely spread world of chemistry. So that they not only learn or study chemical facts but also live the science. For all other readers this book is an entertaining reading matter." (Materials and Corrosion, 2011)

"A great resource for career mentoring. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Teachers and students of chemistry at all levels." (Choice, 1 January 2012)

"Lippard also says that the book should be ‘required reading for all faulty members who teach chemistry in high schools, colleges, and universities'. I would endorse this view, as I found the book to provide excellent insights into many unfamiliar areas of modern chemistry." (Chemistry World, 1 September 2011)

"This is a somewhat unusual book that is well worth reading . . .The book is well constructed with print of a relatively large font size." (ISSX (International Society for the Study of Xenobiotics), 1 November 2011)

"This title deserves to be held by every public library as the interested layperson will quickly come to see just why it is that our discipline is so exciting and vibrant, and what it is that makes it so essential for the future of humankind." (Chemistry in New Zealand, 1 July 2011)

"In this imaginative book, 17 chemists give their best advice in letters to Angela, an imaginary chemistry undergraduate who is thinking about making a career in the field. In the process, the contributors provide an excellent overview of chemistry as a whole, and give a good sense of the challenging and rewarding work that chemists do." (Booknews, 1 June 2011)

Stephen Lippard Named Priestley Medalist

 Stephen J. Lippard, the Arthur Amos Noyes Professor of Chemistry at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will receive the 2014 Priestley Medal, the American Chemical Society’s most prestigious honor. Read the announcement…