William A. Lester Jr., PhD – Professor Emeritus

Oakland, CA— Prominently featured in The Inner Circle, William A. Lester Jr., PhD is acknowledged as a Pinnacle Lifetime Achiever 2024 for his contributions in Chemistry and Education.

Dr. Lester is a renowned educator specializing in computational chemistry. He has made significant groundbreaking contributions to the field of chemistry, particularly in the development of the quantum Monte Carlo (QMC) method.

Well-prepared for his professional pursuits, Dr. Lester earned a Bachelor of Arts (BA) from the University of Chicago; a Master’s degree from the University of Chicago; and a Ph.D. in molecular quantum mechanics from the Catholic University of America. Continuing his journey of excellence, the doctor made history as the first Black Professor in the Department of Chemistry at the University of California, Berkely and his contributions to chemistry and academia have left a lasting impact in the field.

In addition to his innovative works, Dr. Lester has held many various academic and research positions. He explained that he began as a typist for a professor of molecular physics at the University of Chicago during his undergraduate years and later pursued graduate studies at the University of Chicago and the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. with research at the National Bureau of Standards. He has worked as a lecturer and conducted research at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and the IBM Research Laboratory in San Jose, CA. Dr. Lester was appointed as the Director of the National Resource for Computation in Chemistry (NRCC) at Lawrence Berkely National Laboratory (LBNL) and continued his research and teaching until his retirement.

The doctor would like to recognize his mentors, Professor Stuart Rice, Dr. Bernard Ransil, and Dr. Morris Krauss. Reflecting on his illustrious career, the doctor credits following his philosophy that centers on building relationships. Looking to the future and currently in his retirement, Dr. Lester plans to continue his research in his role as Professor Emeritus of the Graduate School without teaching requirements. The doctor would like to dedicate this honor to the memory of his wife, Rochelle, and his daughter, Allison. He also acknowledges the influence his father, William A Lester, had on his successful career.

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