CAS alum endows first chemistry lecture series
By Tim Stoddard
When freshman Benjamin Lambert arrived on campus for the 1951–52 academic year, he wasn’t sure how he was going to pay for his tuition and student fees. His widowed mother, with five other children, did her best to support him, and with a small scholarship from his high school and a part-time job, he made ends meet until spring, when the University awarded him an Augustus Howe Buck Scholarship covering full tuition and providing a stipend for living expenses.
“That was a godsend,” says Lambert (CAS’55). “It gave me time to participate in extracurricular activities such as chorus and glee club, the student-faculty assembly, and Scarlet Key. It enabled me to enjoy the full spectrum of college life at Boston University, both academically and socially.”
Lambert wanted to show his appreciation to his alma mater and to the College of Arts and Sciences chemistry department, which propelled his 40-year career as a chemist and patent law attorney. He recently made a bequest to CAS to support the first endowed colloquium series in the department of chemistry.
“The Lambert Lecture series is going to be a big occasion every year for the department,” says Thomas Tullius, a CAS professor of chemistry and chairman of the department. “It’s going to allow us to bring very prominent chemists to the department.”
The first annual Lambert Lecture will be given by Samuel Danishefsky, a leading organic chemist with joint appointments at the Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research in New York City and at Columbia University. The lecture, entitled Reflections on the Power of Organic Synthesis, is on Monday, April 26, from 4 to 5 p.m. in Metcalf Science Center Room 107. There will be a public reception at 3:30 p.m.
The Lambert Lecture will each year address different topics in organic chemistry, the field of Lambert’s undergraduate and graduate studies. Tullius says that the organic theme is appropriate for the department, which has recently been awarded a $10.6 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop an extensive library of organic molecules. “The theme of the Lambert Lecture goes very well with a number of developments in the department,” he says, “particularly the new Center for Chemical Methodologies and Library Development. We’re making a big push in that area anyway, and it will be great to have a chance to bring in prominent scientists in this field.”
After earning his bachelor’s degree in chemistry at BU and his master’s degree in organic chemistry at Brandeis University, Lambert took a job as a pharmaceutical chemist at CIBA in Summit, N.J. (CIBA subsequently became Norvartis). He then decided to go to law school at Seton Hall University, later working as a patent attorney at Merck before moving to Johnson & Johnson, where he spent 21 years on patents and licensing. He’s semiretired now, but still does some consulting for Johnson & Johnson.
Lambert plans to attend the inaugural lecture. “I thoroughly enjoyed my four years at BU — they were probably some of the best years of my life,” he says. “I have very strong feelings about the chemistry department at BU, and this is a way of giving back. The scholarship that I had paid for full tuition, with a stipend. I felt very fortunate to have that, and since I left BU, I’ve always felt that in some way I should give something back to the University.”