Science & Technology

Marine Bacteria in Drug Discovery Topic for USU's Olsen Lecture Jan. 27

By Mary-Ann Muffoletto |

2020-2021 Olsen Lecture speaker is William Fenical, Distinguished Professor of Oceanography and Pharmaceutical Science at UC San Diego's Scripps Institution of Oceanography. He speaks Wednesday, Jan. 27, at 4 p.m. MST via Zoom.

“Marine Bacteria Provide New Opportunities in Drug Discovery” is the title of Utah State University’s 2020-2021 Richard Olsen Lecture Series talk, featuring marine research chemist William Fenical of the University of California San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography. All are invited to the lecture, which will be presented via Zoom Wednesday, Jan. 27, at 4 p.m. MST.

“We’re excited to welcome a speaker of Dr. Fenical’s caliber presenting to our Utah State community,” says Lance Seefeldt, professor and head of USU’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, which hosts the gathering. “His timely talk will appeal to scholars from many disciplines across campus.”

Fenical, Distinguished Professor of Oceanography and Pharmaceutical Science at Scripps’ Center for Marine Biotechnology and Biomedicine, explores the isolation and identification of chemical materials from marine plants, animals and microorganisms with potential pharmaceutical or agricultural uses.

“Over the last 60 years, microbes have provided a massive source for antibiotics and for cancer drugs,” Fenical says.

He notes the first statins also came from microbial sources.

“Microorganisms are diverse, unique and the chemistry of the products produced by them tends to be highly bioactive,” says Fenical, who has pioneered investigation of marine organisms for development of anti-inflammatory drugs and treatments targeting multiple myeloma, lymphomas, as well as a number of carcinomas.

Fenical’s appearance is the 13th lecture of the Richard Olsen Lecture Series, which was established in 2006 by the late USU Emeritus Professor Richard Olsen and his wife, LiVina Hymas Olsen.

Olsen, who joined USU’s faculty in 1967, passed away in 2012.

The lectureship honors Olsen’s parents, Kenneth Beal Olsen and Sarah Young Olsen, who, Olsen said, “made many things possible.”

Olsen said the lectureship was also established in appreciation to the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and to Utah State for providing him the opportunity to pursue his professional goals of teaching and research in the field of organic chemistry.

For more information about the lecture, contact USU’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at 435-797-1619.

USU Emeritus Professor Richard Olsen, who passed away in 2012, and his wife, LiVina Hymas Olsen, established the Olsen Lectureship in 2006 to provide students and faculty with opportunities to learn from and meet with distinguished scientists.


Mary-Ann Muffoletto
Public Relations Specialist
College of Science


Heather Bird
Business Assistant
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry


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