Public Lecture Focuses on Solar Fuels

David Britt
UC Davis Distinguished Professor of Chemistry R. David Britt

UC Davis Distinguished Professor of Chemistry R. David Britt, a leader in the field of bioinorganic spectroscopy, will discuss solar fuels on April 29 during a public lecture supported by the Winston Ko Professorship in Science Leadership.

The talk, titled “Solar Fuels: Nature’s Approach,” explores how natural photosynthesis carries out the conversion of light energy to chemical energy, and how photosynthesis might be modified to directly produce clean and useful fuels such as hydrogen. 

The free event begins at 4:30 p.m. on Monday, April 29, in the Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum’s Community Education Room. A reception will follow. RSVP is requested via Eventbrite.

Chancellor Gary May and Professor Emeritus Winston Ko will attend and inaugurate Britt as the first holder of the Winston Ko Professorship in Science Leadership.

The Winston Ko Professorship in Science Leadership recognizes national or international science leadership by an outstanding faculty member in the departments of chemistry, earth and planetary sciences, mathematics, physics or statistics. 

“Winston Ko’s vision for advancing science and bringing prominence to the world-class education offered through the College of Letters and Science is perfectly embodied in David Britt’s transformative research and leadership. It is wonderful to know that in this professorship, we can both honor Winston’s legacy of excellence and strengthen the impact of our research and scholarship for future generations,” said Elizabeth Spiller, dean of the UC Davis College of Letters and Science.

Britt investigates the structure and function of biologically significant enzymes. His primary research tool is advanced electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectroscopy, and he leads the CalEPR center, the largest center of its kind on the West Coast. Britt is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and was awarded the Royal Society of Chemistry Bruker Prize, the Gold Medal of the International EPR Society, and the Zavoisky Award of the Russian Academy of Sciences (Kazan).

Longtime UC Davis professor and administrator Winston Ko and his wife Katy Ko endowed the faculty chair in the College of Letters and Science. The Kos launched the endowment with a challenge grant upon his retirement in 2013. Colleagues, friends and family of the Kos answered the challenge, helping the endowment surpass its $1 million goal in 2017.

The endowment honors Winston Ko’s 41 years of service to UC Davis and his leadership in research and education. Ko served as chair of the Department of Physics from 1998 to 2003 and dean of the Division of Mathematical and Physical Sciences (MPS) from 2003 to 2013. (MPS was one of three separate divisions in the College of Letters and Sciencein 1996–2017.) 

— Becky Oskin, content strategist, UC Davis College of Letters and Science