ASU fetes Hao Yan as inaugural Glick Chair

Headshot of Hao Yan

In a celebration before a packed house at the Biodesign Institute, ASU professor Hao Yan was honored as the inaugural Milton D. Glick Distinguished Chair of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

The award is named for chemistry professor Milton “Milt” Glick who passed away last year. Glick came to ASU in the early 1990s and served for 15 years – first as senior vice president, and then as ASU’s chief academic officer as provost and executive vice president, before assuming the presidency of the University of Nevada Reno from 2006 until his death.

“Milt was one of America’s great educators, and helped ASU become a great university through his 15 years of leadership, intellect and drive," said Crow. “Since Milt started out his career as a chemistry professor, we wanted to honor one of the very brightest chemistry faculty stars here at ASU, professor Hao Yan.”

Yan is a recognized leader in the fast-moving field known as structural DNA nanotechnology, or DNA origami, that self-assembles DNA into a broad range of technological applications important for human health and bio-electronic sensing devices. Yan’s inspiration to his lab, students and break-neck speed of developing new technologies may spark a ‘bottom up’ nanotechnology industry to developing new solutions in medicine, energy and electronics.

“I am very honored and humbled to be the recipient of this great honor by the Glick family and President Crow,” said Yan. "I’d also like to give a special thanks to Stuart Lindsay, the director of Biodesign’s Center for Single Molecule Biophysics, who was instrumental in originally recruiting me to ASU, with its vision of performing science in service to society and solving grand challenges. This is truly a memorable moment for me, my family and my lab.”

In addition to his research team’s scientific achievements that have braced the covers of leading research journals such as Science and Nature, Yan is just as dedicated in the classroom. As a professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Yan has created an interactive environment in undergraduate and graduate courses that allows students to participate in class discussions, developed graduate courses that integrate research advances in cutting-edge interdisciplinary classes, and mentored and inspired students to be original thinkers in both research and the classroom.

Joining the celebration were well-wishers from across ASU and members of the Glick family, including widow, Peggy Glick. 

“I think Milt would be thrilled with this way of remembering him here,” said Glick. “He would be thrilled with associating him with the words ‘distinguished professor’. He would be thrilled that, with this professorship, there is one more of those ‘franchise players’ that he used to talk about at every department meeting. And he would happy to know it happened at this university, where he was the provost for so long, and where he really grow up as an academic administrator.”

A longtime friend of Glick’s on the ASU faculty, Regents' Professor and poet Alberto Rios, capped off the occasion with a special composition.  

Alberto Rios
The Chemist
            Who sees his work in all things is never lost.
Whose life has been iron and vapors in fire,
The elements themselves
Gathered in their thousand meetings
Tasked with making the things of the world,
Who has given and in that giving collected
An equal and like reward, a life served well
Serving yet, finished with nothing
But what is left behind, ahead
Undone and alive with still-to-do,
Humming with wanting-to-do,
Who has made a chemistry of days,
One day joined to a next, seven to five,
Five to five, a quarter to five, 365¾
That great molecule of time
All the alchemy of a single moment
Necessary, again and again, a year of days,
A day of hours, an hour full of work
And humor too, a hat worn on the heart.
This is the science of a man,
The science of composition, structure,
Properties, reactions of matter,
And of what matters.