Carnegie Mellon University

A Distinctive First

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Nobel Prize Medal Finds a Home Here

Pople Nobel Medal

Carnegie Mellon University is one of only a few universities in the United States to display a gold Nobel Prize Medal.

Through a generous bequest from the late Professor John A. Pople, the medal he received for winning the 1998 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was presented to the university by Pople's children.

"John Pople was one of our most distinguished faculty members, warmly remembered for his profound dedication to his science and his students," said Carnegie Mellon President Jared L. Cohon. "We are very grateful to receive his Nobel Prize Medal, and hope that each person who views this artifact will be inspired to follow Professor Pople's example."

Pople, the former J.C. Warner Professor of the Natural Sciences at Carnegie Mellon, was affiliated with the university and the Mellon Institute for more than 30 years. His work was integral to launching the field of computational quantum chemistry.

At a time when people were just beginning to use computers to solve complex scientific problems, Pople developed the computational methods that made possible the theoretical study of molecules. The program, called GAUSSIAN, was first published in 1970 and is still be used to this day to study molelcues, their properties and interactions in chemical reactions — having an enormous impact on scientists' ability to develop drug therapies for disease, clean up environmental hazards and perform other complex scientific solutions.

"The Nobel Medal is a symbol of excellence, ingenuity and innovation — three words that I would associate with John Pople and his work," said Hyung J. Kim, professor and head of the Department of Chemistry. "Pople's work transformed how chemists model molecules, allowing us to understand increasingly complex systems."

The presentation took place at the inaugural John A. Pople Lectures in Theoretical and Computational Chemistry at 4:30 p.m., Mon., Oct. 5, in the Mellon Institute Auditorium. The Pople lectures are free and open to the public.

Carnegie Mellon's Department of Chemistry has established the biennial lectures, which will bring leaders in the field of computational chemistry to campus to honor Pople's contributions to science.

Giving the inaugural lectures will be two men with close ties to Pople and Carnegie Mellon: his former student Mark Gordon, and Walter Kohn, a former Carnegie Mellon physics professor who shared the 1998 Nobel Prize with Pople.

Carnegie Mellon has been home to 18 Nobel Laureates in five of the six categories. The Nobel Medal will be displayed in Carnegie Mellon's Hunt Library beginning in the spring of 2010.

Related Links: Dept of Chemistry  |  Pople Lectures  |  Carnegie Mellon's Nobel Laureates