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David Tirrell to deliver distinguished Eyring Lecture Series at ASU


Portrait of leading American chemist David A. Tirrell.

David A. Tirrell is a leading American chemist and the Ross McCollum-William H. Corcoran Professor and professor of chemistry and chemical engineering at the California Institute of Technology.

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October 24, 2022

Leading American chemist David A. Tirrell will be the featured School of Molecular Sciences’ Eyring Lecture Series speaker Nov. 3–4 at Arizona State University's Tempe campus.

The general lecture on Nov. 3, titled “Genetic Engineering of Macromolecular and Cellular Materials,” will be presented at 6 p.m. in the Marston Theater in ISTB4, and will also be available via Zoom. An outdoor reception on the ISTB4 patio will follow from 5 to 5:40 p.m.

A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences with many international awards, Tirrell is the Ross McCollum-William H. Corcoran Professor and professor of chemistry and chemical engineering at the California Institute of Technology.

Tirrell was educated at MIT and at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He joined the Department of Chemistry at Carnegie‐Mellon University in 1978, returned to Amherst in 1984 and served as director of the Materials Research Laboratory at UMass before moving to Pasadena, California, in 1998. At Caltech, he has served as chairman of the Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering (1999–2009), director of the Beckman Institute (2011–2018) and provost (2017–present).

Tirrell’s research interests lie in macromolecular chemistry and in the use of non‐canonical amino acids to engineer and probe protein behavior. His contributions to these fields have been recognized by his election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society and all three branches (sciences, engineering and medicine) of the U.S. National Academies.

The Eyring Lectures are part of an interdisciplinary distinguished lecture series dedicated to stimulating discussion by renowned scientists who are at the cutting edge of their respective fields. Each series consists of a leadoff presentation to help communicate the excitement and the challenge of science to the university and community. Past lecturers have included Nobel laureates Ahmed Zewail, Jean-Marie Lehn, Harry Gray, Richard Smalley, Yuan T. Lee, Richard Schrock, John Goodenough, Mario Capecchi and, most recently awarded, Carolyn Bertozzi.

The technical lecture “Selective Proteomic Analysis of Cellular Sub-Populations in Complex Biological Systems” will take place at 2:30 p.m. on Nov. 4 in room 166 of the Physical Sciences Center F-Wing. It will also be available via Zoom.

This lecture will describe the use of non‐canonical amino acids (ncAAs) as selective probes of protein synthesis in complex biological systems. Pulse‐labeling with ncAA probes provides time‐resolution, while controlled expression of mutant aminoacyl‐tRNA synthetases allows the investigator to restrict analysis to cell types or cell states of interest. The methods are applicable to studies of microbial systems, mammalian cell culture and a variety of animal models.The scope and limitations of the approach, and some recent results, will be discussed.

The Eyring Lecture Series is named in honor of the late Leroy Eyring, an ASU Regents Professor of chemistry and former department chair, whose instructional and research accomplishments and professional leadership at ASU helped to bring the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry into international prominence. The Eyring Materials Center and the Navrotsky Eyring Center for Materials of the Universe at ASU are named in his honor.

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