D. Wynne Thorne 2012 Winner
Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry
What’s So Important About Nitrogen?
D. Wynne Thorne Career Research Award Lecture
For the last 25 years, Lance Seefeldt, a Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at USU, has been attempting to understand how biology converts nitrogen gas in air to ammonia. Since nitrogen gas is extremely inert, this is considered a very difficult process. This reaction is vital to all life on Earth because nitrogen provides the only means for living organisms to convert nitrogen, which constitutes 80 percent of the air, into usable form. Moreover, two-thirds of Earth’s populations depend on the ammonia produced by nitrogenase for crop production and other biological outcomes. Thanks to Dr. Seefeldt, a new understanding of how a nitrogen molecule can be reduced to ammonia has been created. In his lecture, Dr. Seefeldt will discuss the lessons learned from his research career, the energy implications for this complex reaction, and a view to exciting new progress likely coming in the future.