Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) Center for Global Affairs and Science Engagement (GASE) and National Taiwan University (NTU) hosted Four Seasons Lecture Series – Winter: My Journey to Stockholm.
The event invited Professor Sir J. Fraser Stoddart to share his life and academic journey as an ordinary farm boy from Scotland to becoming the Board of Trustees Professor of Chemistry at Northwestern University and a Nobel laureate of Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2016. To welcome the distinguished speaker and everyone who attended the event, Minister of MOST, Dr. Liang-Gee Chen, gave an encouraging remark during the event opening.
Professor Stoddart was born in Edinburgh, Scotland and grew up in a remote farming community with no electric equipment before he turned 18 years old. As an only child growing up with limited access to conveniences, the lifestyle was rather simple. At young age, he found joy and eventually became fascinated in solving puzzles, which paved the way to his deep interests in stereochemistry and topology. The young Stoddart enjoyed much liberty and freedom, which greatly encouraged his creativity and imagination of the world.
Inspired by the experience of his upbringing and the great Scottish Enlightenment, Professor Stoddart went on and study at the University of Edinburgh where he received his PhD with just a little over two years in 1966. Since then, he was granted with various research fellowships and has been appointed to many faculty and administrative positions at eminent educational institutions. Professor Stoddart arrived at Northwestern University in the mid-2000s after a few years as a professor at the California Institute of Technology, and is now the Board of Trustees Professor of Chemistry and head of the Stoddart Mechanostereochemistry Group in the Department of Chemistry.
In 2016, Professor Stoddart shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry with his fellow colleague researchers, Ben Feringa and Jean-Pierre Sauvage, for the invention and synthesis of molecular machine. The groundbreaking invention of molecular machine aims to advance the future development of biomedical nano-scale structures, biopsies, and energy storage systems.
Aside from his many achievements, Professor Stoddart is a passionate educator. With decades of dedication in education and research, hundreds of postdoctoral researchers and graduate students have been trained in his labs.
Sharing similar childhood experience, Minister Liang-Gee Chen grew up in countryside in Yunlin, Taiwan. Before he moved to Taipei to attend high school at age 15, he had to help with the farming duties out in the field. During his remarks, Minister Chen echoed with Professor Stoddart’s experience, and pointed out that there are no shortcuts to success, it is all about the process. In all aspects of development, from technology advancement to farming, the process of learning, unveiling and awakening are the most valuable experience of human intelligence. Minister Chen also emphasized on the importance to nurture our young talents and scholars by pointing out that the government needs to creative the right environment, and offer competitive benefits to attract those aspiring future leaders.
According to the statistics, many of the Nobel Prize winners had accomplished their scientific breakthroughs during the age of 25 to 37. To encourage aspiring scientists, MOST launched various programs, including the Einstein Program and the Columbus Program, by giving out grants and subsidies for young scholars under the age of 32 and 35 with their innovative researches.
More than 700 scholars, postgraduate and students attended this lecture. When it comes to pursuing the passion of life, Professor Stoddart encouraged the audience to be creative and not be afraid to make mistakes; they are merely a learning process to success.
Program Director Hui-chuan Cheng
Department of International Cooperation and Science Education,
Ministry of Science and Technology
MOST Center for Global Affairs and Science Engagement (GASE)