Stanford chemist Harden McConnell has been named the 2002 winner of the Welch Award for lifetime achievement in basic chemical research. The formal announcement was made May 30 at a Faculty Club luncheon sponsored by the Welch Foundation of Houston.
McConnell -- the Robert Eckles Swain Professor of Chemistry, Emeritus -- is the 32nd recipient of the award, which includes a gold medallion and a $300,000 prize to be presented in Houston in October. McConnell's selection brings Stanford's number of Welch Award recipients to four -- more than any other institution.
In announcing the award, Welch Foundation officials noted that McConnell has made significant discoveries about the fundamental molecular properties of cell membranes that provide new insights into how the body regulates cholesterol and activates its immune system.
"Dr. McConnell has made a series of pioneering discoveries concerning the physical state of liquid membranes, providing principles used every day by many scientists," said Norman Hackerman, chair of the Welch Foundation's scientific advisory board.
"It's clear that he disregards easy problems," Hackerman told luncheon guests. "He carries out research on things that irritate him -- and obviously does a good job!"
In acknowledging the award, McConnell noted that only "20 percent of my work was done by me alone."
The other 80 percent involved collaborations with students and postdocs, so the award is also a tribute to them, he said, and to the two chemistry departments where he spent most of his academic career -- Caltech (1956 to 1964) and Stanford (1964 to 2000).
A native of Virginia, McConnell received his undergraduate degree in chemistry from George Washington University and his
doctorate from Caltech. A member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences,
McConnell has received numerous professional awards, including
Contact: Mark Shwartz