Anne Lesage
Université de Lyon
2024 Vaughan Lecturer

Robert Walton Vaughan: The Vaughan lecture series is name in honor of Robert Walton Vaughan: b. McAlester, Oklahoma 1941; d. 25 May 1979 Professor of Chemical Engineering, California Institute of Technology, 1971-1979 Ph.D., Chemical Engineering, 1967, University of Illinois

 Bob Vaughan and Solid-State NMR at Caltech in the 1970’s

Robert W. Vaughan was an extraordinary scholar and leader in the field of solid-state NMR spectroscopy until his untimely death in an airplane crash in May of 1979 at the age of thirty-eight. A native of McAlester, Oklahoma, he attended the University of Oklahoma in Norman. He went to graduate school at the University of Illinois, where he worked in the laboratory of Harry Drickamer on the effects of high pressure on the Mossbauer spectroscopy of materials. As part of his ROTC obligation he went to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena after finishing the Ph.D. at Illinois. He subsequently joined the faculty of chemical engineering at the California Institute of Technology. While at JPL he was heavily influenced by work with Dan Elleman, forming a lasting friendship and collaboration that would persist until his death. He continued his association with Elleman and Won Kyu Rhim, who went to JPL after having been a postdoctoral fellow in Vaughan’s laboratory at Caltech. Vaughan’s research efforts were characterized by a balance between exploration of NMR fundamentals, as evidenced by his average Hamiltonian analyses of multi-pulse sequences and development of NMR experiments to probe the magnetic resonance properties of materials, and his focus on questions about problems in chemical and material sciences, from catalysts to conductors. Moreover, he strongly influenced many researchers that were visitors in his laboratory, including Bernie Gerstein, Cecil Dybowski, and Alex Vega. He also enjoyed an eclectic, multidisciplinary research group, including students from engineering, physics, and chemistry. In May of 1979 his group was actively studying bi-, and tri-nuclear metal complexes, heterogeneous catalysts and adsorbates, hydrogen bonding in organic solids, inverse detection and separated local field spectroscopy of nitrogen and carbon, further development of pulse sequences using average Hamiltonian theory, site-dependent cation motion in fuel cell materials, multiple quantum effects in quadrupolar systems, and two-quantum filtered proton NMR in minerals. He was a big supporter of the Rocky Mountain Conference, and enjoyed the friendship of virtually all with whom he came in contact. A beloved research director, teacher, husband, and father, his impact on our field is felt to this day.

– Jeffrey Reimer
University of California, Berkeley

Click here for 2026 Vaughan Lecturer Nomination procedures

Past Vaughan Lecturers:

2022 Chad Rienstra
2018 Bernhard Blümich
2016 Dominique Massiot
2014 Rod Wasylishen
2012 Mark Conradi
2010 Ago Samoson
2009 Kurt W. Zilm
2008 Clare P. Grey
2007 Robin K. Harris
2006 Lucio Frydman
2005 Malcolm H. Levitt
2004 Robert Tycko
2003 Colin Fyfe
2002 Jeffrey Reimer
2001 Stanley Opella
2000 Cynthia Jameson
1999 Hans Spiess
1998 Shimon Vega
1997 Charles Slichter
1996 Gary Maciel
1995 David Grant
1994 Alex Vega
1993 Jake Schaefer
1992 Robert Griffin
1991 Dan Weitekamp
1990 Maurice Goldman
1989 Harry Pfeifer
1985-88 NONE
1984 Nino Yannoni
1983 E. Lippmaa (unable to attend)
1982 Alex Pines
1981 John Waugh
1980 Michael Mehring
1979 Bernie Gerstein

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