Symposium to honour the contributions of Distinguished Research Professor Barry Lever

Barry Lever

York University Distinguished Research Professor Barry Lever heads to Quebec City this week to take part in the 102nd Canadian Chemistry Conference and Exhibition, an annual gathering of the world’s top chemistry researchers and academics that is organized by the Canadian Society for Chemistry.

This year the conference has particular meaning for Prof. Lever as there will be a symposium on June 5 to celebrate his 50-year span of editorship of Coordination Chemistry Reviews, an international journal that he founded in 1966 one year before he joined York University in 1967. The journal is published by Elsevier and the company is sponsoring the symposium, which was organized by Professors Chris Orvig (University of British Columbia) and Danny Leznoff (Simon Fraser University).

Active in the Canadian chemistry scene for more than 50 years, Lever has channeled his knowledge, ingenuity and energy into a leadership role in Canada’s inorganic chemistry research community.

“I would say that the journal dominated much of my life. For years I was the lead editor with less than a handful of associate editors,” he said. The journal is highly regarded by the world’s community of chemistry researchers and has an impact factor of 13.324 (which in academic terms is a stellar figure). Lever said during his time leading the journal, aided by two or three associate editors, he edited more than 300 volumes.

“When I retired from editing the journal a few years ago, they replaced me with 10 people,” he chuckled.

To celebrate this legacy, symposium organizers have invited a global contingent of researchers in chemistry to the event, which will feature a series of keynote lectures delivered by some of the world’s top inorganic chemists, including Professor Sally Brooker, University of Otago, New Zealand, Professor Thomas J. Meyer, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill , Professor Edward I. Solomon, Stanford University and Professor Julia Weinstein, University of Sheffield.

In his tribute to Lever’s role launching and carrying CCR, Yale University Professor Robert H. Crabtree wrote in his tribute published in CCR Volume 244, August 2017:

“The first issue of Coordination Chemistry Reviews was published in early 1966. Rather than a long list of editorial board members as we see today, the only name that appears on the title page is that of the founding editor, Barry Lever, whose preface promised that further issues would appear as papers came in, as indeed they did. Barry was also able to select the best authors and persuade them to provide manuscripts for issue 1 … Rather than just waiting for reviews to come in, as the preface seemed to imply, in reality Barry has always been very active in seeking out authors who have something useful to say.”

Barry Lever pictured with the first and most recent issues of Coordination Chemistry Reviews, the journal he founded and edited for 50 years

In 2017, Lever retired from the helm of CCR but has not stepped away from his research (he still comes to York every day). An inorganic chemist, Lever works in computational chemistry building models on his computer using density functional theory. “Building molecules on the computer is much faster than ‘cooking’ them in a lab and the computer will predict the properties [of the molecules] pretty well,” he said, noting that he loves to design molecules for specific purposes, which may then be cooked (created) in a laboratory.

He continues to mentor undergraduate students and is passionate about molecular orbital theory. He encourages undergraduates who are interested, but not afraid of molecular orbital theory, to contact him if they are interested in learning more about this complex theory.

In addition to founding and editing CCR, Lever said he is most proud of a textbook he authored in 1968 (a second edition was published in 1984). Titled Inorganic electronic spectroscopy, the book was published during a time of huge growth in the understanding of the power and potential of inorganic complex chemistry. Lever said the book was one of the first to offer an introduction to inorganic electronic spectroscopy and continues to be cited to this day, having received over 12,500 citations, so far!

To learn more about the symposium honouring Lever’s editorship of CCR, visit the conference website. Undergraduate science students interested in learning more about molecular orbital theory should contact Lever by email at