2016 Cava Lecture: Amos Smith


Synthetic, Bioorganic and Medicinal Research in the Smith Group
4:00 PM, Thursday, October 13th, 2016
1000 North Lawn
(Technical Talk)

Publication of Research in the Future: A Personal Perspective
4:00 PM, Friday, October 14th, 2016
1004 Shelby Hall
(General Interest Talk)


Prof. Amos Smith
Professor Amos Smith

Amos B. Smith, III received his early education in Lewisburg, PA. In 1966 he was awarded Bucknell University’s first combined four-year B.S.-M.S. degree in Chemistry. After a year in medical school (University of Pennsylvania), he earned his Ph.D. degree (1972) and completed a year as a Research Associate at Rockefeller University. In 1973, he joined the Department of Chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania; currently, he is the Rhodes-Thompson Professor of Chemistry. In addition, he is a Member of the Monell Chemical Senses Center, and from 1976-2000, he was a Member of the Laboratory for Research on the Structure of Matter (LRSM). In 2001, he was appointed as an Honorary Member at the Kitasato Institute, where he has served as Visiting Director. From 1988 to 1996 he served as Chairman of the Department of Chemistry. In 1998 he became the first Editor-in-Chief of the new American Chemical Society journal, Organic Letters.

Smith’s research interests encompass three diverse areas: natural product synthesis, bioorganic chemistry and materials science. To date more than 85 architecturally complex natural products have been prepared in his Laboratory. In addition, Smith, in collaboration with Ralph Hirschmann, has achieved the design and synthesis of non-peptide peptidomimetics of neuropeptideic hormone/transmitters and protease enzyme inhibitors and, also with Stephen Benkovic (Penn State), haptens for the production of catalytic antibodies capable of peptide bond formation. At Monell, in collaboration with Peter Jurs (Penn State), he pioneered the use of computerized pattern recognition techniques for the analysis of primate chemical communication. Collaborative programs at the LRSM include the chemistry and physics of novel liquid crystals and the fullerenes. More recent studies with the late Professor Robin Hochstrasser involve the development of ultrafast photochemical triggers to explore peptide/protein folding.

Smith has been a Visiting Professor at Columbia, Cambridge (UK) and Auckland (NZ) Universities. Editorial Board memberships include the Journal of the American Chemical Society (1988-1993), the Journal of Organic Chemistry (1982-1986, 1994-), Accounts of Chemical Research (2002-), Journal of the Chemical Society, Perkin Transactions I (1992-2001), Organic Reactions (1987-), Organic Synthesis (1990-1998), Fullerene Science and Technology (1993-1996), Regional Editor (1997-2001), Synlett (1995-1998), Tetrahedron Publications (1996-), Journal of Antibiotics (1999-) and Chemical & Pharmaceutical Bulletin (2000-). He has also served on the NIH Medicinal Chemistry A Study Section as Member (1993-1987 and 1995-1998) and as Chair (1997-1999), and on the Executive Committee of the Organic Division of the ACS, as Chair-Elect, Chair, and Past-Chair (1995-1997).

Currently, he is a Member of the Board of Directors of both Organic Reactions (1995-) and Organic Syntheses (2002-), and a Member of the ACS Governing Board for Publications (2012-2015). In addition, Smith is a Member of the ESPCI International Science Council, Paris, France (2007-), and then ACS Governing Board for Publishing (2011-). To date, Smith has co-authored over 700 publications and has delivered over 600 invited lectures, including plenary lectures at the National Organic Chemistry Symposium (1983, 1993, 2005), numerous Gordon Research Conferences, the Royal Society Christmas Lectures (Edinburgh, Scotland and Cardiff, Wales), the 3éme Cycle en Chimie (French Speaking Universities in Switzerland), the W. S. Johnson Symposium (Stanford University), the Leermakers Symposium, the Stork Lectureship (Columbia University), the Nelson J. Leonard Lectureship (University of Illinois) and the Bristol-Myers Squibb Lectureship (Harvard).

His honors and awards include the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Teacher Scholar Award (1978), the NIH Career Development Award (1980), The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship (1985), The Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Fellowship (1986), the Philadelphia Section Award of the ACS (1986), The Kitasato Institute Medal (1990), the first Philadelphia Organic Chemist’s Club Award (1990), the Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award (1991), Honor Scroll Award-American Institute of Chemists (1991), the Alexander von Humboldt Research Award for Senior U.S. Scientists (1992), Bucknell University Alumni Award for Outstanding Professional Achievement (1993), the ACS Ernest Guenther Award (1993), the University of Oregon Creativity Award (1997), the ACS Award for Creativity in Organic Chemistry (1997), Honorary Membership in the Pharmaceutical Society of Japan (1999), Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science (2002), the Centenary Medal, Royal Society of Chemistry, London, UK (2002), the 2003 Yamada Prize (Tokyo, Japan), the first Provost’s Award for Distinguished Teaching and Mentoring of Ph.D. Students, University of Pennsylvania (2004), the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon from the Government of Japan (2004), Fellow, American Academy of the Arts and Sciences (2006), RSC Simonsen Medal (2008), Inaugural Fellow, American Chemical Society (2009), DSc (honoris causa), Queens University, Belfast, Northern Ireland (2009), Wilsmore Professorship, Melbourne University, Melbourne, Australia (2011), Honorary Professor, Jiangsu Normal University, Xuzhou, China (2012-), Gassman Award, Organic Division, American Chemical Society (2014), the William H. Nichols Medal of the New York Section (2014), the Allan R. Day Award (2015), The Philadelphia Drug Discovery Institute Award (2015), the Perkin Prize for Organic Chemistry by the Royal Society of Chemistry, UK (2015) and featured in the Honorary Issue of the Journal of Antibiotics (2016).