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Chem 164/261/264 - J Vederas


Dr. John C. Vederas is University Professor of Chemistry. He was born in Germany to Lithuanian parents, but immigrated with them as a pre-schooler to the US. He obtained a B.Sc. in Chemistry from Stanford University and a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He then did postdoctoral work at the University of Basel (Switzerland) and at Purdue University prior to joining the University of Alberta as a faculty member and becoming a Canadian citizen.

Although his first exposure to chemical experimentation came during his grade school years when he generated fireworks in his backyard, his interests soon acquired a biological component through the collection and dissection of small animals killed by traffic on city streets. These hobbies were actively discouraged by his family, especially after they were driven from their home by a chlorine gas experiment. Eventually, even the storage of road kill on the garage roof was prohibited. During his undergraduate years, John Vederas worked summers as a night shift laborer at an Air Reduction Company (Airco) plant that manufactured high pressure and liquified gases. After graduation, he spent a summer developing software for thermal analysis of airplane tires for the B.F. Goodrich Company. This job provided opportunity to watch the predictions made by the programs in actual tests of the tires on large road wheels which simulated airplane landings, sometimes leading to explosive destruction of the tires.

The current research of John Vederas aims at understanding the mechanisms by which Nature assembles biological molecules. His present research group has 9 graduate students and 2 postdoctoral fellows. The work is multidisciplinary and employs chemical synthesis, spectroscopic methods, isotope labelling, enyme isolation, and microbiology. On the practical side, the group's efforts aim at design and testing of enzyme inhibitors that exhibit potentially useful medicinal effects, for example, new antibiotics and antiviral agents that are effective against microorganisms resistant to current therapy. As of July 2022, 69 Ph.D. and 9 M.Sc. students have completed their degrees under his supervision. He has also had > 70 postdoctoral fellows and > 70 undergraduates complete research in his group.

John Vederas has received recognition for research and teaching, including the Faculty of Science Award for Teaching Excellence (1993), the Rutherford Award for Undergraduate Teaching (1995), the University Cup (1998), the J. Gordin Kaplan Award for Research (2003), the Killam Award for Mentoring (2003) and the Klawe Award for Excellence in Teaching Large Classes (2006). He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (1997) and the Royal Society of Chemistry (London, 2006), and an Alberta Centennial Medal recipient (2006). He was awarded the Merck Award (1986), the John Labatt Award (1991), the R. U. Lemieux Award (2002) and the Alfred Bader Award (2005) from the Canadian Society for Chemistry for his research. He received the Chemical Institute of Canada (CIC) Medal for 2008 and the Alberta Science and Technology (ASTech) Outstanding Leadership in Science Award for 2010. He served in numerous scientific organizations, was President of the Canadian Society for Chemistry (2002-2003), a Member of Council at the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) (2001-2004), Chair of the 2008 Annual Conference of the Canadian Society for Chemistry and was Chair of the Chemical Institute of Canada (2015-2016). In 2017 he was co-chair of the American Peptide Symposium. He is the author of over 350 research publications, 4 books and 24 issued patents.

In 2009 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (London) and in 2014 he was made a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology. In 2016 he was appointed a Senior Fellow of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) - Molecular Architecture of Life Program.


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