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John Vournakis, ’61

John Vournakis, '61 2001 Elkin R. Isaac Lecture

“Serendipity - Just Plain Old Luck”

Wednesday, April 18, 2001; 7:30 p.m.
Bobbitt Visual Arts Auditorium

A teacher and researcher of distinction, John Vournakis has published more than 150 research articles in the fields of biophysics, molecular biology, and biotechnology, and is an inventor on over 15 U.S. and foreign patents. After graduating from Albion, he continued his education at Cornell University, earning his M.S. and Ph.D. in biophysical chemistry in 1966 and 1968, respectively.

From 1970 to the present, Vournakis has held faculty appointments at several of the nation's most prestigious colleges and universities. After a year on the Amherst College faculty, he served at Syracuse University from 1973 to 1985 as assistant, associate, and full professor of biochemistry. From 1985 to 1988, he was professor of biology and director of the Molecular Genetics Center at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H. He left academia to become a senior executive in the biotechnology industry from 1988 to 1992 and returned to teach again at Dartmouth from 1992 to 1995. In 1995 he became a professor of medicine and associate director for the Hollings Cancer Center, Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC).

In 1992 Vournakis co-founded Marine Polymer Technologies, Inc., a start-up medical products company. He is the inventor of a polymer-based technology that has led to several FDA-approved products, including the SyvekPatch hemostat used for the rapid control of bleeding following medical procedures such as cardiac catheterization.

Vournakis was a predoctoral and postdoctoral Fellow of the National Institutes of Health, a National Academy of Sciences USA Fellow (1968), a European Molecular Biology Organization Fellow (1970), and received a National Science Foundation Senior Research Associate Award (1972-75). He currently holds six editorial positions, including editor of the Genetic Engineering News, and serves on the Hollings Cancer Center Board and the MUSC Foundation for Research Development. He is a member of the Tsintzina Society board and of the Greek Orthodox Church.

Vournakis received a Distinguished Alumni Award in 1996. He lives in Charleston, S.C., with his wife, Karen Munro Vournakis, '66. They have one son, Christopher.

Wilbur S. Hurst, ’61

Dr. Wilbur S. Hurst, '61 1997 Elkin R. Isaac Lecture

Physicist, National Institute of Standards and Technolog

“Supercritical Water: A Contrarious Fluid and its Application for the Destruction of Aqueous Wastes”

Tuesday, April 15, 1997
Olin 112

2017 Symposium Schedule

The 28th Annual Elkin R. Isaac Student Research Symposium
April 19-20, 2017

Isaac Symposium student research poster presentations in the Science Complex Atrium.
Isaac Symposium student research poster presentations in the Science Complex Atrium.

Wednesday, April 19

7:30 p.m. – Elkin R. Isaac Alumni Lecture


Thursday, April 20

9:00 - 10:15 a.m. – Student Research Presentations

  • Forum 1 – Norris 100
  • Forum 2 – Towsley Lecture Hall/Norris 101
  • Forum 3 – Norris 102
  • Forum 4 – Norris 104

10:45 a.m. - noon – Honors Convocation, Goodrich Chapel

1:30 - 4:00 p.m. – Student Research Platform Presentations

  • Forum 1 – Norris 100
  • Forum 2 – Towsley Lecture Hall/Norris 101
  • Forum 3 – Norris 102
  • Forum 4 – Norris 104

4:00 - 5:00 p.m. – Student Research Poster Presentations, Science Complex Atrium

7:00 p.m. – Joseph S. Calvaruso Keynote Address, Goodrich Chapel

About the Isaac Research Symposium

Welcome to the Elkin R. Isaac Student Research Symposium at Albion College.

The purpose of the Elkin R. Isaac Student Research Symposium is to honor excellent student research, scholarship, and creative activity. The participants are nominated by their faculty sponsors after having participated in independent research that results in the significant synthesis of new knowledge. The research must have been performed under the direct supervision of an Albion College faculty member, or in a College-approved off-campus program.

Dr. Charlie Jacobs from the Biology Department planned and organized the first Albion College Student Research Symposium, which was held on April 20, 1990, and involved seven students making presentations describing their research projects. In 1993, a poster session was added, and by 1995, the number of student presenters had risen to 16. In 1997, the Isaac Endowed Lectureship became associated with the Albion College Student Research Symposium, and the Symposium name was changed to the Elkin Isaac Research Symposium.

By 1999, the Symposium had grown to the point that concurrent sessions were required for 62 platform and poster presentations. 1999 also saw the addition of the Symposium keynote address, which has featured Wade Davis, Stephen Jay Gould, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Kurt Vonnegut, Salman Rushdie, and Gloria Steinem.  In 2000, the Research Symposium was first held on the same day as the College's Honors Convocation.

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