Distinguished Lectureship Series

Michael H. Benn Distinguished Lecture Series is dedicated to the memory of our friend and colleague Michael Hewitt Benn, who passed away at the age of 78 on December 21, 2011 after a lengthy battle with a heart disorder.

Mike Benn obtained his BSc and PhD from Imperial College in London. This was followed by an S.C. Johnson Fellowship at the University of Birmingham. In 1959, he moved to North America, where he spent a year as a postdoctoral fellow at the National Research Council in Ottawa, and a second year at the University of California, Los Angeles. In 1961, he joined the fledgling Calgary campus for the University of Alberta, which later became the University of Calgary. He was instrumental in establishing a vigorous teaching and research program in organic chemistry at the new university. Mike will be remembered for his lifelong passion for the study of rare and unusual natural products, especially alkaloids from diverse plant species. He worked tirelessly toward the isolation and structure determination of the new molecules that he discovered, as well as on their biosynthesis and role in biology. His work endures in over 150 scientific publications. Mike was also an accomplished mountaineer, whose alpine adventures became the stuff of legend on campus. Many of his friends and coworkers spent memorable days “learning the ropes” from him in his beloved Rocky Mountains. Above all, Mike was a wise and generous mentor who inspired several generations of students, postdoctoral fellows and colleagues with his broad knowledge, dedication and sharp wit. He would be pleased by this lecture series, which will continue to bring insight and inspiration to future generations in the years to come.

For more than 150 years, the company and its predecessors have played a pioneering role in the growth and development of Canadian history. Its roots go back to 1862 when Canadian Limited Industries supplied many of the explosives used in the construction of the railroads, the development of the mining industry, and the opening of the west. Today, ICI products touch millions of Canadians in beneficial ways from coast to coast. Many manufacturing plants, offices, distribution sites and retail stores all carry the ICI logo in Canada. They are linked though common ownership by one of the world’s largest and most diverse scientific enterprises, Imperial Chemical Industries PLC of Great Britain, better known as ICI. ICI’s extensive product range, its high level of service, and the vast resources of its international network all work to give its customers invaluable advantages in today’s highly competitive business environment. Throughout the years, ICI’s involvement in higher education expanded to include the sponsorship of the Distinguished Lectureship Series. With this involvement, ICI helps to ensure a more promising future for young Canadians. ICI believes this approach will result in a more constructive relationship with the students and faculties on campuses across Canada.