JoAnne Stubbe, a biochemist noted for her work in understanding the mechanism of physiologically active organic molecules, has been named the first holder of the John C. Sheehan Professorship, established by MIT to honor the scientist remembered internationally for the first useful synthesis of penicillin.
Dr. Sheehan, emeritus professor at MIT, passed away last March. He had been a member of the MIT faculty since 1946.
Provost Mark S. Wrighton announced the establishment of the chair and Professor Stubbe's selection at a luncheon last week (October 21) attended by Marion M. Sheehan, Professor Sheehan's widow; Professor Robert J. Silbey, head of the Department of Chemistry; Robert J. Birgeneau, Dean of the School of Science, and other colleagues including a longtime friend of Professor Sheehan's, Professor Elkan Blout of Harvard University.
"The Professorship in John Sheehan's name honors a man and his contributions, which have been of great benefit to many people and to the Institute," Professor Wrighton said.
"Professor Stubbe's selection as the first chairholder is an excellent choice since she is an outstanding scientist working at the interface of chemistry and biology much in the way of Professor Sheehan himself," he said.
Professor Stubbe holds joint appointments in both the Department of Chemistry and the Department of Biology. She is also a member of the Whitehead Institute.
She was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in May, an honor accorded for "distinguished and continuing achievements in original research."
Professor Stubbe is also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
In 1990 she was among 19 members of the MIT faculty to receive Graduate Student Council Teaching Awards in recognition of excellence in teaching.
She joined MIT and Whitehead in 1987 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she had been a faculty member since 1983. Professor Stubbe holds the BA in chemistry (1968) from the University of Pennsylvania and the PhD in organic chemistry (1971) from the University of California, Berkeley.
She has also taught at the Yale University School of Medicine (1977-80) and at Williams College (1972-77) and was an NIH postdoctoral fellow at Brandeis (1975-77) and a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California (1971-72), working there with Professor Julius Rebek, now of MIT.
Included among her honors are the Pfizer Award in Enzyme Chemistry (1986), the ICI-Stuart Pharmaceutical Award for Excellence in Chemistry (1989) and the Cope Scholar Award (1993).
Professor Stubbe is a member of the editorial boards of several leading journals in her field.
A version of this article appeared in the October 28, 1992 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 37, Number 11).