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 March 24, 2014

Douglas Turner Wins 2014 UR Lifetime Achievement Award in Graduate Education

Douglas TurnerChemistry professor Douglas H.Turner has been recognized by the University for his contributions to graduate education over his 39 year career at Rochester with the 2014 UR Lifetime Achievement Award in Graduate Education. For Doug, this award is the capstone of an outstanding career as a scholar, researcher, teacher and graduate mentor.

Doug Turner attended Harvard College, where he graduated cum laude in Chemistry and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Chemical Corp. He did his graduate work in the Chemistry Departments of Columbia University and Brookhaven National Labs, where he worked with George Flynn and Norman Sutin to develop the Raman laser temperature jump method for measuring kinetics on a nanosecond time scale. He did a postdoc with Ignacio Tinoco, Jr. at the University of California, Berkeley, where, he invented fluorescence detected circular dichroism for measuring the optical activity of the fluorescent component of a solution.

In 1975, Doug joined the faculty of the Chemistry Department at the University of Rochester, where he is now a Professor. During two sabbatical years (1984-85, 1993-94) in Tom Cech's lab at the University of Colorado at Boulder, he learned much biochemistry and biology. Together with his academic family of 9 postdocs, 46 students who have graduated with Ph.D.'s, and other collaborators, he has discovered many of the fundamental principles that determine RNA structure. This has helped advance methods for predicting RNA structure from sequence so that the methods are widely used by biochemists and biologists. He has published over 200 papers and they have been cited over 15,000 times. The work has also been recognized by Sloan and Guggenheim Fellowships, election as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, awarding of the Gordon Hammes Lectureship in 2011, and continuous funding of an NIH grant that started in 1976.

His former students, many of whom contributed to his nomination with enthusiastic letters of support, were unanimous in their recognition of the impact Doug has had both on their development as scientists and on them as individuals. A mentor cannot garner higher praise from his former students and colleagues. Congratulations to Doug on this most well deserved recognition!