1997 Gibbs Ceremony for Carl Djerassi

    1997 Gibbs Ceremony FOR CARL DJERASSSI

    - by Josh Kurutz, Section Historian

    Gibbs Medal ceremonies offer a chance for Chicago chemists to hobnob with eminent figures in our field. Photos from these events often show some of the greatest scientists of the day, but oftentimes we need help matching their names with their faces. In this entry of the “Who Is This?” series, we focus on the 1997 Gibbs meeting honoring Dr. Carl Djerassi. Djerassi earned fame for his contributions toward the first oral contraceptive pill, organic synthesis, and physical organic chemistry. In his later years, he bridged science and the arts, writing books and plays in the “science-in-fiction” genre. Djerassi’s Gibbs ceremony was held on May 16, 1997, at the Chicago O’Hare Marriott, and the Section Historian could use some help identifying people in the photos. If you have any insights, please share them at: [email protected].

    In the first photo (above left), we see Djerassi receiving the medal. Normally, it is presented by the ACS President, who was Paul S. Anderson that year. However, the visage of the presenter strikes the historian more like Roald Hoffman, who was on the Gibbs Award Jury that year and may have stood in for Anderson. Does anyone know whether Anderson looks like Hoffman or, if Hoffman presented the medal, why he was designated for the role? Who is 9705-A?

    The next questions concern the identities of some tuxedo-clad attendees (above, center and right) who were probably invited guests, possibly prominent chemists on the Gibbs Jury or officers of national ACS. In the hallway photo with Djerassi in the center, we can’t identify the people labeled 9705-B and -C. The faces of diners 9705-D and 9705-E are known to the Historian from photos of other Chicago ACS events, but we still need help identifying who they are.

    Chicago luminary Zafra Lerman, President of the science diplomacy-focused Malta Conferences Foundation and recurring Section meeting speaker, made an appearance that was captured in the fourth photo, but we would like to know who she was talking with, 9705-F and -G. In Photo 5, attendee 9705-H is seated between Ellis Fields (1985 ACS President and 1971-72 Chicago Section Chair) and Claude Lucchesi (1977-78 Chicago Section Chair and co-founder of the Analytical Laboratory Managers Association, ALMA), and we would like to know who he is.

    Photo 6 shows a number of unidentified attendees, and the Historian has a tentative notion of who 9705-M is but does not want to bias potential help with a suggestion.

    Assistance in all these identifications, as well as stories and additional photos, would be most welcome. Please correspond using [email protected]. Thank you.

    – Josh Kurutz, Section Historian



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