Gustavus Adolphus College has announced that Associate Professor of Chemistry Dr. Scott Bur will be named the next Director of the Nobel Conference. Bur will assume the leadership role from Professor of Physics Dr. Chuck Niederriter beginning with the 2014 Nobel Conference.
“On behalf of the entire Gustavus community, the faculty, staff, students, alumni, and thousands of friends of the College who have enjoyed the Nobel Conference over the past 48 years, I would first like to thank Dr. Niederriter for his leadership over the past five years as Director of the Conference. The Nobel Conference continues to be one of the most unique and valuable educational conferences at an undergraduate college or university in the United States,” President Jack Ohle said. “We are honored to have the opportunity to host such a prestigious event and we look forward to the leadership of Dr. Bur as we prepare to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Conference in 2014.”
Bur will become the fourth person to hold the title of Director in the 48-year history of the Nobel Conference. He follows conference directors Chaplain Richard Elvee (1965-1999), Professor of Psychological Science Timothy Robinson (2000-2008), and Niederriter (2009-Present).
“The Nobel Conference has always been the highlight of my year, and it has been very rewarding to work on some of the planning teams. So, when I saw the call for a new director, I expressed my interest right away,” Bur said. “Reading the description of the Director’s position was like reading a description of my dream job, and Dr. Niederriter has done such a fantastic job running the Conference that it almost looks easy. I know, of course, that there will be challenges, but the opportunity to work with talented colleagues as we plan future events, such as the 50th anniversary celebration, makes facing those challenges less daunting.”
Bur earned his bachelor of science degree from the University of Michigan in 1994 and went on to earn his Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin in 2000. At Texas, Bur worked under the supervision of Professor Stephen F. Martin on ways to make molecules, specifically molecules containing nitrogen atoms. After completing his Ph.D., he worked under an NIH postdoctoral fellowship in the laboratories of Professor Albert Padwa at Emory University in Atlanta. His work there also involved new ways to make molecules. Bur joined the Gustavus faculty in 2003 and primarily teaches courses in organic chemistry.
The 49th annual Nobel Conference, which will be the last conference directed by Dr. Niederriter, will take place Oct. 1-2, 2013, and is titled “The Universe at Its Limits”. The Conference will address questions such as ‘what is the universe made of?’, ‘where did it come from?’, and ‘where is it going?’ Presenters include 1976 Nobel laureate in physics Samuel Ting, 2004 Nobel laureate in physics Frank Wilczek, and 2006 Nobel laureate in physics George Smoot.
The 50th Nobel Conference in 2014 will be directed by Dr. Bur and will be themed around recent advances in science and will feature previous Nobel Conference panelists. Conference organizers are asking conference attendees and members of the public to give input on which past speakers they would like to see invited back. A website has been set up where you can chose up to five past presenters. More information about previous and future Nobel Conferences can be found online at gustavus.edu/nobel.
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