Symposium honors chemistry professor Anthony Fink

Tony Fink with former graduate students Sangita Seshadri (left) and Katie Reid (photos by Shirley Fink)
The symposium concluded with a reception on the quad at the Baskin School of Engineering.

Friends, colleagues, and students of chemistry professor Tony Fink came to campus May 26 to attend a symposium in Fink's honor. Former grad students and postdoctoral associates traveled from Japan, Mexico, South America, and all over the U.S. to attend the event.

The Anthony L. Fink Symposium, held at Baskin Auditorium, included presentations by six researchers in Fink's field of neurodegenerative diseases and the study of proteins. The speakers were David Eisenberg of UCLA, Donato Di Monte of the Parkinson's Institute, Robert Nussbaum of UCSF, Lisa Ellerby of the Buck Institute, UCSC's Harry Noller, and Greg Petsko of Brandeis University.

Fink has made seminal contributions in fundamental areas of biophysical chemistry. In recent years, he has emerged as a world authority on the mechanism by which proteins assume misfolded conformations en route to forming insoluble aggregates. These investigations are highly significant because it is now recognized that numerous debilitating neurodegenerative diseases, including Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, and the prion diseases, are linked to the formation of in vivo misfolded protein aggregates.

Fink, who has taught at UCSC since 1969, also holds an appointment as an adjunct senior scientist at the Parkinson's Institute in Sunnyvale. He has over 200 publications, many of which have been cited hundreds of times, as well as books and book chapters. He was elected a Fellow of the American Association for Advancement of Science in 2004. In addition, he is an accomplished photographer, whose work was included in Santa Cruz County's Open Studios last year.

Fink has mentored 54 graduate students and about 40 postdoctoral associates. Ninety undergraduate students have also carried out research and independent study with him. Fink is known for treating his lab team like family and planning potluck meals, bike rides, and camping trips with the group. Many of his former students have continued to stay in touch after leaving UCSC.

The symposium emcee was chemistry professor Glenn Millhauser, and department chair Ólöf Einarsdöttir gave introductory remarks. The program ended with acknowledgements from members of the Academic Senate, former students, and family, as well as a few words from Fink. The symposium concluded with a public reception on the quad at Baskin Engineering.