Kendall N. Houk


Born February 27, 1943, in Nashville, Tennessee, USA.

Professor of Chemistry, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of California, Los Angeles, California, USA.
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Alfred P. Sloan Fellow (1975–1977). Camille and Henry Dreyfus Teacher–Scholar (1972–1977). Louisiana State University Distinguished Research Master (1978). Alexander von Humboldt Senior U.S. Scientist Award (1982). Akron Section, American Chemical Society (ACS) Award (1983). Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award (1988). Director, Chemistry Division, National Science Foundation (1988–1990). James Flack Norris Award in Physical Organic Chemistry (1991). Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (1992). Schrödinger Medal, World Association of Theoretically Oriented Chemists (1998). Tolman Medal, Southern California Section, ACS (1999). Doctor rerum naturalium honoris causa, University of Essen, Germany (1999). Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2002). ACS Award for Computers in Chemical and Pharmaceutical Research (2003).

Author of:

More than 500 publications; a recent selection is:

Important Contributions:

K. N. Houk applies quantum mechanical theory and computations to understand and predict rates and mechanisms of chemical and biochemical reactions. Highlights: 1. Models to explain regioselectivity in cycloadditions; 2. The origin of negative activation energies and entropy control of carbene cycloadditions; 3. Transition structures of pericyclic reactions; 4. New general type of stereoselectivity, named "torquoselectivity," and predictions of new reactions; 5. Explanations of the origins of stereoselectivity and developing methods of computational modeling of synthetically important reactions; 6. Origins of molecular recognition and discoveries of the importance of gating on kinetic stabilities of host-guest complexes; 7. Theoretical understanding of catalysis by several antibodies and enzymes; 8. Generalizations about conical intersections involved in photochemical reactions of alkenes.