World-renowned Chemist Will Present 2015 Gooch-Stephens Lectures

March 17, 2015
Kendall HoukKendall Houk courtesy photo.

“He’s in the upper echelons in the world of chemistry with the research he’s doing,” said Marilyn Rajaratnam, research administrative associate in the department of chemistry and biochemistry in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences.

Houk will give his first lecture titled “Computation Chemical Biology” Thursday followed by “Theory and Modeling of Stereo Selective Organic Reactions” Friday.

Houk is a well-known authority on theoretical and computational organic chemistry. The Houk Research Group in UCLA’s department of chemistry and biochemistry specializes in the study of organic, organometallic and biological reactions using theoretical and computational methods and programs.

“He has pioneered the use of computer calculations to study organic chemistry and predict chemical reactivity. Houk is one of the world's leading physical organic chemists and has made groundbreaking contributions to our understanding of chemical reactivity and has been able to explain why some chemical reactions occur and others do not,” Rajaratnam said.

Houk received his bachelor’s, master’s and Ph.D. degrees from Harvard University. He pursued his undergraduate education at Louisiana State University in 1968 before teaching at Princeton University and University of Pittsburgh. In 1986, Houk came to UCLA where he serves as the director of the Chemistry-Biology Interface training program. Houk also was director of the Chemistry Division at the National Science Foundation from 1988 to 1990.

Houk's research is supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency. He has published approximately 800 articles in scholarly journals and is among the 100 most-cited chemists.

The lectures are free and open to the public.

The Baylor Science Building is located at 101 Bagby Ave. in Waco.

For more information, please contact Marilyn Rajaratnam


The gooch-stephens lectures were established as a permanent annual event in recognition of the outstanding contributions of two longtime, highly respected chemistry professors and former department chairmen. Dr. W.T. Gooch became an instructor at Baylor University in 1908 after receiving two degrees from Baylor. His mentor was E.E. Reid, who later became an internationally known chemist at Johns Hopkins University. Dr. W.R. Stephens succeeded Dr. Gooch as chairman of the department in 1949. As chairman, Dr. Stephens enlarged the staff of the chemistry department and, in 1952, initiated and developed the doctor of philosophy program in chemistry. While chairman, Dr. Stephens devoted much of his energy and talents to the details of construction during the building of our former facilities in the Marrs McLean Science Building.


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having “high research activity” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The University provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions. Baylor sponsors 19 varsity athletic teams and is a founding member of the Big 12 Conference.

Looking for more news from Baylor University?