Carl Djerassi, emeritus professor of chemistry at Stanford University, is one of the few American scientists to have been awarded both the National Medal of Science (for the first synthesis of a steroid oral contraceptive--”the Pill”) and the National Medal of Technology (for promoting new approaches to insect control).
A member of the US National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Royal Society (London) as well as many other foreign academies, Djerassi has received 24 honorary doctorates together with numerous other honors, such as the first Wolf Prize in Chemistry, the first Award for the Industrial Application of Science from the National Academy of Sciences, the Erasmus Medal of the Academia Europeae, the Perkin Medal of the Society for Chemical Industry, the Gold Medal of the American Institute of Chemists, and the American Chemical Society’s highest award, the Priestley Medal. An Austrian postage stamp with his image was issued in 2005.
For the past 22 years, he has turned to fiction writing, mostly in the genre of “science-in-fiction,” whereby he illustrates, in the guise of realistic fiction, the human side of scientists and the personal conflicts faced by scientists in their quest for scientific knowledge, personal recognition, and financial rewards. In addition to 5 novels (“Cantor’s Dilemma;” “The Bourbaki Gambit;” “Marx, deceased;” “Menachem’s Seed;” “NO”), poetry (“The Clock runs backwards”), autobiography (“The Pill, Pygmy Chimps, and Degas’ Horse”) and memoir (“This Man’s Pill”), he embarked in 1997 on a trilogy of “science-in-theatre” plays. “AN IMMACULATE MISCONCEPTION”—first performed at the 1998 Edinburgh Fringe Festival and subsequently (1999 - 2005) in London, San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, Detroit, Vienna, Munich, Cologne, Sundsvall, Stockholm, Sofia, Geneva, Seoul, Tokyo, Lisbon, and Singapore—has been translated into 12 languages and broadcast by BBC Radio on its World Service in 2000 as “Play of the Week,” in 2001 by the West German and Swedish Radio, in 2004 by NPR (USA) and in 2006 by Radio Prague.
“OXYGEN” (co-authored with Roald Hoffmann) premiered in April 2001 at the San Diego Repertory Theatre, in September 2001 at the Mainfranken Theater in Würzburg and in November 2001 at the Riverside Studios in London and was broadcast by both BBC World Service and the West German Radio in December 2001. It has since been translated into 16 languages.
In his only Dublin engagement, Djerassi will address the question of what the theatre can do for science, and illustrate it through excerpts from selected clips form a recording of "OXYGEN". He will them perform a dramatic reading of an excerpt from "PHALLACY" with a focus on the element Copper.