Share this

Harry Gray to speak at UNI Wilson lecture

October 10, 2011

Bill Harwood, department head and professor, chemistry and biochemistry, 319-273-0423,

Lindsay Cunningham, Office of University Relations, 319-273-6728,


CEDAR FALLS, Iowa -- Harry Gray, the Arnold O. Beckman professor of chemistry at the California Institute of Technology, will present "The Solar Army" at the 2011 Leland Wilson Endowed Chemistry Lecture at the University of Northern Iowa. The lecture will be presented at 7 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 27, in Lantz Auditorium, McCollum Science Hall.

Gray is currently trying to design solar-driven molecular machines that will store solar energy by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen. Hydrogen is a clean fuel that can hopefully be used or combined with carbon dioxide to produce methanol, a liquid fuel. He also is working on light absorbers and catalysts that have the potential to split water as efficiently as natural photosynthesis. He plans to recruit hundreds of students to join a "solar army" whose mission will be to discover brand new metal-oxide catalysts for solar water splitters.

Gray began his work in inorganic chemistry at Northwestern University where he earned his Ph.D. He went on to win the Wolf Prize in Chemistry in 2004 for his work in bioinorganic chemistry. He is also the founding director of the Beckman Institute at the California Institute of Technology.

The Leland Wilson Endowed Chemistry Lectureship was established in 2007 by a gift from Wilson's daughter, Mary Sue Coleman, president of the University of Michigan and former president of the University of Iowa, and her husband, Kenneth Coleman. Wilson was the first department head of the newly formed Department of Chemistry at UNI in 1968, and served in that capacity until 1975. He retired as professor of chemistry in 1979 and died in 1993 at age 79.

The lecture is free and open to the public.  For more information, contact Harwood, UNI department head and professor of chemistry and biochemistry, at 319-273-2437 or