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Report from IUPAC-Sponsored Symposium


Physical Organic Chemistry
16th International Conference on Physical Organic Chemistry (ICPOC-16), 4-9 August 2002, San Diego, California, USA.

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by Tom Tidwell

From 4-9 August 2002 at the University of California, San Diego, 280 chemists from 30 countries assembled for "Structure and Mechanism in Organic Chemistry," the 16th International Conference on Physical Organic Chemistry, which was sponsored by IUPAC. The meeting featured 34 plenary and invited lectures, 93 contributed lectures, and 128 posters.

Distillation II*
by Marilyn H. Perrin

The local organizer was Professor Charles L. Perrin, who is also chair of the Subcommittee on Structural and Mechanistic Chemistry of the IUPAC Organic and Biomolecular Chemistry Division. A social and cultural program included a welcoming reception, visits to the Mt. Palomar Observatory and the San Diego Zoo, city and harbor tours, and a banquet at the Birch Aquarium of the Scripps Institute for Oceanography.

The University of California at San Diego (UCSD) is now more than 40 years old, and the faculty has included nine Nobel Prize winners in the sciences. The most recent is Walter Kohn, a 1998 winner in chemistry who developed DFT computational methods at UCSD before moving to U.C. Santa Barbara. Barry Sharpless, a 2001 winner in Chemistry, is at the nearby Scripps Research Institute. The San Diego campus is situated in a lovely environment on the Pacific Ocean, in an area that has become a leading center of the biotechnology industry in the United States. In addition to a benign summer climate, the university has excellent conference facilities, with low-cost student residences available for participants.

Conference participants outside the meeting room: Left to right; John Toscano (Johns Hopkins U., Baltimore), Peter Chen (ETH, Zurich), Charles L. Perrin (UCSD, Chair of Organizing Committee), JoAnn DeLuca (Central Washington U.), and John Baldwin (Syracuse U.)

The topics presented at the five-day meeting emphasized the diversity of modern research in structural and mechanistic chemistry, with particular emphasis on understanding chemical reactivity, intermolecular recognition, supramolecular chemistry, biological systems, and materials. A key topic was nanotechnology, including lectures on photochemically activated molecular- level devices (Vincenzo Balzani, Bologna, Italy); dynamics of contractile catenanes and rotaxanes (Jean- Pierre Sauvage, Strasbourg, France); synthesis and operation of a molecular motor (Ben Feringa, Groningen, Netherlands); and millimeter-scale selfassembly and potential applications (George Whitesides, Harvard). Another key topic was the analysis of the relation between structure and biochemical function, including lectures on hydrogen tunneling in enzyme-catalyzed reactions (Judith Klinman, U.C. Berkeley); kinetics of self-replicating systems and selfassembly of nanoobjects based on nucleic acids (Gunther von Kiedrowski, Bochum, Germany); genetic selection as a tool for mechanistic enzymology (Donald Hilvert, ETH, Zürich, Switzerland); chemical methods for modulating cell-surface architecture (Carolyn Bertozzi, U.C. Berkeley); single-molecule studies of the mechanism of protein unfolding (Jane Clarke, Cambridge, U.K.); and the thermodynamics of some reactions of NO and NADH (Jin-Pei Cheng, Nankai University, China). Other presentations dealt with gasphase and solution reactivity and structure, including catalysis of electron-transfer processes (Shunichi Fukuzumi, Osaka); low-coordination silicon compounds (Yitzhak Apeloig, Haifa, Israel); salt effects on conformations of heterocycles (Eusebio Juaristi, Mexico); mass spectrometric detection of organometallic intermediates in new catalytic processes (Peter Chen, ETH, Zurich); and synthesis of novel cyclopropane derivatives (Armin de Meijere, Gottingen, Germany).

This symposium continues an impressive series of scientific presentations, following the trajectory of the plenary lecture by K. R. Seddon at the 15th Conference in 2000 in Göteborg, Sweden. That lecture was published in Pure and Applied Chemistry in 2001 and was ranked in the top 10 requested articles from the Chemical Abstracts document service. The 17th conference is scheduled for Shanghai in 2004, and is expected to continue to showcase the growth and development of this field.

* Since it has been an ICPOC tradition to include artwork in conference programs, Professor Perrin chose one of his wife’s pieces for all to enjoy. Enlarged piece can be viewed in color at <chem-faculty.ucsd.edu/perrin/icpoc>.

Tom Tidwell, University of Toronto, is president of the IUPAC Division of Organic and Biomolecular Chemistry.


> Published in Chem. Int. 24(6), 2002

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