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State-of-the Art Chemistry Lab Dedicated at Loyola

Loyola press release - October 11, 1999

(New Orleans)—The Gregory R. Choppin Chemistry Wing will be formally dedicated Friday, October 15, 1999, at 2 p.m during a ceremony in the newly-renovated chemistry facilities in Monroe Hall. Choppin, the honoree, and Tom Benson, the generous donor who made this honor possible, will be on campus to celebrate the event. A lecture on the "History of Radioactivity," presented by Choppin, will follow in Nunemaker Auditorium.

The chemistry wing is being named after Choppin after undergoing a $2 million renovation funded by lead gifts from Mr. and Mrs. Tom M. Benson, $550,000; W.M. Keck Foundation, $500,000; Shell Oil Company Foundation, $300,000; the Gheens Foundation, Inc., $50,000; and George I. Alden Trust, $40,000.

Choppin, a New Orleans native and a 1949 maxima cum laude graduate of the College of Arts and Sciences, has enjoyed a fascinating career as a chemist, particularly during the peak years of the Cold War. In 1955, Choppin was co-discoverer of Chemical Element 101, named Mendelevium in honor of Dmitri Mendelev, the creator of the periodic table of the elements. For an American chemist to name an element for a Russian scientist was a bold gesture in the mid-1950s.

Currently, Choppin is conducting research for the Department of Energy’s divisions on basic energy sciences and environmental management and Lockheed Martin which centers on the basic environmental properties of heavy elements which are radioactive. He also has several research contracts with governmental agencies and medical companies.

Choppin has been awarded two Fulbright grants, a Swedish Research Council Grant, and has been named a Danforth Associate by the Danforth Foundation. He is the recipient of an honorary doctor of science degree from Loyola and an honorary doctor of technology degree from Chalmers University at Goteborg, Sweden. He also has received awards from the American Chemical Society, the Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung, the American Nuclear Society, the Florida Academy of Sciences, and the American Institute of Chemists.

Following his graduation from Loyola, Choppin earned his doctorate degree from the University of Texas at Austin. Presently, he is a professor of chemistry at Florida State University at Tallahassee, Florida, where he has taught since 1963. In 1967, Choppin was named the R.O. Lawton Distinguished Professor at FSU, a chair he holds to this day.