‘Festschrift’ fetes Rice professor

American Chemical Society honors Peter Wolynes with special issue of Journal of Physical Chemistry B 

The American Chemical Society has published a special issue of the Journal of Physical Chemistry B in honor of Rice University Professor Peter Wolynes for his 60th birthday.

Peter Wolynes

Peter Wolynes

The Festschrift, published online Oct. 24, includes a tribute by friends and colleagues of Wolynes, the D.R. Bullard-Welch Foundation Professor of Science, a professor of chemistry and a senior scientist with the Center for Theoretical Biological Physics (CTBP) based at Rice’s BioScience Research Collaborative.

The issue includes a memoir by Wolynes and lists of his collaborators, publications, awards and honors.

It also incorporates a long set of papers related to Wolynes’ work, including new research by Rice colleagues Gustavo Scuseria, the Robert A. Welch Professor of Chemistry and a professor of physics and astronomy; Anatoly Kolomeisky, a professor of chemistry and of chemical and biomolecular engineering; Herbert Levine, CTBP co-director and the Karl F. Hasselmann Professor of Bioengineering; and José Onuchic, CTBP co-director and Rice’s Harry C. and Olga K. Wiess Professor of Physics and Astronomy, and Eshel Ben-Jacob, a senior scientist at CTBP. Many others among the authors are colleagues and former students of Wolynes.

The guest editors, led by Onuchic, wrote in their introduction to the issue that breakthroughs by Wolynes and his group have answered “many dozens” of specific problems in chemical and biological physics and materials science.

“Peter’s work,” they wrote, “with its numerous brilliant and piercing insights, has changed the thinking and direction of modern experimental, theoretical and computational research in many different fields, including protein folding and dynamics, the glass transition, energy flow within molecules, gene regulation, binding of proteins, cell motility and reaction dynamics.”

They noted the unifying concept of Wolynes’ work: “He develops new conceptual – and subsequently quantitative – frameworks to attack complex problems that had been approached largely by trial and error.”

“I was really pleased that so many of my colleagues contributed thoughtful papers that will be of lasting scientific value,” Wolynes said. “I was also very proud that so many papers came from my ex-students and postdocs. They are a great group!”

About Mike Williams

Mike Williams is a senior media relations specialist in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.