A Symposium in Honor of Professor Emeritus Edward C. Taylor

By Tien Nguyen, Department of Chemistry
Friday, Apr. 8, 2016

A symposium in honor of Professor Emeritus Edward C. Taylor was held on April 6, 2016 in Taylor auditorium to mark the inauguration of the Edward C. Taylor Fellowships and the Edward and Virginia Taylor Professorship in Bioorganic Chemistry. Taylor’s longtime support has had a transformational influence on the research and scholarship at the Department of Chemistry at Princeton.

Edward "Ted" C. Taylor (left) and Paul Chirik (right)

Tom Muir, the Van Zandt Williams Jr. Class of 1965 Professor of Chemistry and Chair, addressed the auditorium packed with graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and faculty, both past and current, highlighting Taylor’s contributions and then introducing the first speaker, Professor Paul Chirik.

After asking Taylor to stand to receive a vigorous round of applause, Chirik, the Edwards S. Sanford Professor of Chemistry, launched into a lively presentation of his research group’s work in catalysis with earth abundant metals. Chirik kept audience members on their toes by directing questions into the crowd as he showcased a range of research projects from the development of redox active ligands to cycloaddition reactions to the tritiation of pharmaceuticals. Throughout the presentation, he recognized the individual contributions of lab members for their work. Chirik concluded his talk by again thanking Taylor, saying, “Princeton is an incredible place to do science, and Ted, you made it better.”

Kelsey Schramma (left) and Tom Muir (right)

The symposium continued with current research presentations by three graduate students chosen for their outstanding scholarship. Kelsey Schramma of the Seyedsayamdost lab spoke on her work investigating the mechanism of a unique metalloenzyme that crosslinks unactivated amino acids; Valerie Shurtleff in the MacMillan lab presented new applications of metallaphotoredox catalysis that harness visible light to create C-C and C-O bonds; and Luis Guerra, a joint student in the Muir and Yang lab, detailed his study of chromatin at the small scale using single-particle temperature-jump spectroscopy.

A reception was held in the atrium of Frick Laboratory immediately after and included remarks from David S. Lee, Provost and Professor of Economics and Public Affairs. Speaking of Taylor's gift to the University, he stated, "Our graduate programs are critical to the mission of this university and support of this kind is crucial to insuring the continuing excellence of this university's teaching and research. Ted's gifts have made our already stellar chemistry department even stronger.”

Finally, Taylor took to the podium to share his thoughts on the day’s events. He began by thanking Shirley Tilghman, President Emerita of Princeton University, for her careful stewardship of the royalties from Alimta, the anti-tumor drug that Taylor developed with Eli Lilly, which made construction of the new Frick Chemistry Laboratory possible. He then spoke about his intentions for the Edward C. Taylor Fellowships, citing the importance of financial support for both graduate students and the junior faculty those students seek as mentors: “I thought it was an awfully important thing to do which no one had done before, and that intrigued me. For prospective students considering Princeton, the fellowships will be an attractive feature that distinguishes Princeton from all other universities.” Cracking a joke about his emeritus relationship to the department, he concluded by reassuring the audience, “I’m coming back – I’ll haunt this place!”