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Mark A. Ratner Series of Scholars

The “Mark A. Ratner Series of Scholars” was established by generous donations from former students and colleagues as an annual event to be hosted by Northwestern University’s Department of Chemistry. The series honors the contributions of Emeritus Professor of Chemistry Mark Ratner.

Mark Ratner has been a Professor of Chemistry at Northwestern since 1975 and is currently Professor Emeritus in the Department of Chemistry, where he has served as chair on two separate occasions, 1988-1991 and 2009-2012. During his 40 plus years in the department, he mentored more than 150 students and postdocs, has been a member of the Faculty Teaching Honor Roll at Northwestern 11 times, has received the University Distinguished Teaching Award, and taught roughly 5,000 students in general chemistry. In addition, he was one of the founders of the Institute for Sustainability and Energy at Northwestern and the co-director from 2008-2013. Ratner also served as Interim Dean for Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences from 2014-2015 and as Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences from 1980 until 1984.

Mark Ratner is one of the most influential chemists of his generation. He is most well known for introducing to the world the concept of using a molecule—a single molecule—as a component in an electrical circuit, and this idea has spurred more than 40 years of basic and applied research. He has also written two textbooks (Introduction to Quantum Mechanics in Chemistry [2001] and Quantum Mechanics in Chemistry [1993]), two books on nanotechnology for the masses (Nanotechnology: A Gentle Introduction to the Next Big Idea [2003] and Nanotechnology and Homeland Security [2004]), and has published nearly 1000 papers in the areas of magnetism, quantum interference, organic solar cells, non-linear optics, protein folding, and self-assembly.

In addition to being one of the preeminent chemists of his time, Professor Ratner is known for his interest and scholarship in a wide range of non-chemistry subjects. In honor of those interests and drive for knowledge this series annually hosts a scholar outside the field of chemistry to spend the day interacting with students and faculty, primarily in the science and engineering departments. The scholar is chosen by a committee of students as someone who they think will spark the imagination of a broad range of scientists by immersing the Department of Chemistry in a field to which it may not regularly be exposed.

Past Ratner Lecturers 


Kate Nichols 



Rachel Armstrong

Newcastle University

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