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Inventor of Birth Control Pill Speaks at SUNY-ESF


SYRACUSE, N.Y. - A world-famous chemist-turned-novelist, who is known as the father of the birth control pill, will speak this month at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF).

Carl Djerassi, listed by the American Chemical Society as among the most important chemists of the 20th century, will speak at 4 p.m. April 24 in the auditorium in Marshall Hall on the ESF campus.

Djerassi is considered the inventor of the birth control pill, which he accomplished in Mexico City at the age of 28. He was the first scientist to synthesize the active chemical component of the pill. He is also credited for pioneering environmentally safe methods of insect control.

His appearance is part of a lecture series that marks ESF's "Year in Chemistry," a celebration tied to last October's opening of the state-of-the-art Edwin C. Jahn Laboratory. The $21.3 million Jahn lab is an environmentally safe, high-tech facility that planners say will carry the college's renowned chemistry program well into the 21st century.

Djerassi, whose talk will be part of ESF's Earth Week observation, is a chemistry professor at Stanford University. He has written more than 1,200 scientific papers and monographs dealing with the chemistry of natural products, a branch of chemistry that stresses a chemical approach to solving problems in the life and health sciences. ESF offers an acclaimed program in the chemistry of natural products.

In addition to his ground-breaking scientific work, Djerassi has won acclaim in the last decade as a writer. He has written several novels, including Cantor's Dilemma and The Bourbaki Gambit, which he calls "science in fiction," some short stories and two autobiographies. He also founded an artists colony near Woodside, Calif.

During his presentation at ESF, Djerassi will read from his novel, Menacham's Seed, which explores the ethical issues surrounding new methods of fertility control.

Djerassi was awarded the National Medal of Science in 1973 for his work with oral contraceptives and the national Medal of Technology in 1991 for his novel approach to using hormones and pheromones as environmentally friendly methods of insect control. He is one of the few American scientists to have received both awards. In 1992, he received the American Chemical Society's highest award, the Priestley Medal.

He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Further information about Djerassi's fiction is available on his Web site: http://www.djerassi.com.