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Karl Gschneider: Heavy metal

How do lanthanide metals affect you? National expert Karl Gschneider will tell at April 24 talk

By Tommy Zimmer
On April 18, 2012

  • Alum Karl A. Gschneider, who went on to a celebrated career in science and academia, will return to the McNichols campus next week.



A distinguished Iowa professor, Karl A. Gschneider, will be speaking on the application of lanthanide metals in everyday life on April 24 at 5:15 p.m. in the chemistry lecture hall, room 114.

He is not only a graduate of the university and the 2000 Alumni of the Year, he is also a senior metallurgist, the founder of the Rare Earth Information Center and an Anson Marston Distinguished Professor in the department of material sciences and engineering at the University of Iowa.

"The topic of rare earths is an important one," said Salomeia Schlick, UDM professor of physical chemistry. "These metals are used in ... wind turbines, laptops and especially hybrid cars."

Schlick said she was surprised to read that the Toyota Prius needs about ten kilograms of the metals.

UDM chemistry Prof. Mary Lou Caspers pointed out Gschneider may also talk about how the metals are converted into the compounds that are useful.

Prof. Mark Benvenuto, chairman of the chemistry and biochemistry department, hopes that students not particularly interested in the subject will come and take away a new appreciation for the topic.

The production of these metals is a critical, according to Ioannis Souldatos, an assistant professor of mathematics.

"China produces 95 percent of these materials," said Souldatos.

If the Chinese decide to impose export restrictions, it would create problems for the U.S.

The lecture is not only good for students but also for the image of the university itself, said Matthew Mio, an associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry. 

"It means a lot when the alum is a professional scientist," he said. "The vast majority of our students apply for medical, dental and pharmacy schools, and having a real scientist come back is a treat."

In his interactions, Gschneider has left an impression on UDM faculty.

"He is a good human being," Caspers said. "He is self-confident without being arrogant with a good sense of humor."

She also pointed out that he is interested in other people, and she thinks he will be happy to talk with students about their career plans.

Benvenuto noted that the evolution of his work over the past ten years has been fascinating along with its applications in the modern age.


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