Nobel Prize Winner in Chemistry to Give Annual Arthur Sweeny Lecture May 4

April 30, 2012 3:33 pm Chemistry Dept
Dr. Harold Kroto

Dr. Harold Kroto

Nobel Prize winner Sir Harold Kroto, who is the Francis Eppes Professor of Chemistry at Florida State University, will deliver Lehman’s 32nd annual Sweeny Memorial Lecture on Friday, May 4, at 5:15 p.m. in the Recital Hall of the Music Building. His talk, entitled “Carbon in Nano and Outer Space,” will be preceded by a reception at 4:15 in Music Building Room 330 with Dr. Kroto and Lehman Chemistry faculty, both current and retired, as well as students. The campus community is invited to both events.

Dr. Kroto, who was knighted in 1996, won the Nobel Prize that same year for his discovery of C60 Buckminsterfullerene, a new form of carbon. A Royal Society Research Professor at the time, he shared the prize with two colleagues from Rice University in Houston. The three discovered that carbon atoms can assemble into soccer-ball-shaped structures of molecules, known as fullerenes.

Hosted by the Lehman Chemistry Department, the lecture is named in honor of Dr. Arthur Sweeny, who retired in 1974 after 44 years of teaching and research. He taught organic chemistry for thirty-six years at Hunter-in-the-Bronx, the institution that preceded Lehman on its campus and then at the newly named Lehman College for six years. Dr. Sweeny established the first pre-medical office on the campus and helped to break the barriers to medical school admission for women from working-class families as well as for students from various minority groups. He died in 2001 at the age of 94.

Dr. Kroto is the fourth Nobel Laureate to visit Lehman in the past eight years, joining Nobel Peace Prize winners Shirin Ebadi (2004), Jody Williams (2006), and Muhammad Yunus (2008).

A graduate of the University of Sheffield (U.K.), where he also earned his doctorate in molecular spectroscopy, Dr. Kroto served in the capacity of tutorial fellow, lecturer, and then reader at the University of Sussex in Brighton. In 1985, he was awarded a Royal Society Research Professorship. He moved to Florida State University as the endowed Francis Eppes Professor of Chemistry in 2004.

A fellow of the Academy of Sciences of several nations, Dr. Kroto has been president of the Royal Society of Chemistry and has received twenty-nine honorary degrees, as well as fourteen international awards in science or chemistry in addition to the Nobel Prize. He directs the Florida Center for Research in Science Technology and Math Education and chairs the board of the Vega Science Trust, which produces science programs for network television.

For more information on the lecture, contact either Dr. Timothy Paget at or Dr. Andre Jitianu at