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Letter from Linus Pauling to the Principal of Queen's University. May 21, 1953.
Pauling writes to strongly recommend D. P. Riley for an open position at Queen's University.


21 May 1953

Principal, Queen’s University


Ontario, Canada

Dear Sir:

Dr. Dennis P. Riley, of the Royal Institution, has written me that he has made application for the Chowh Research Professorship of Chemistry in Queen’s University. Although he has not asked me to write a reference for him, I have decided to write to you, in the hope that my knowledge about his work may be useful to you in making a decision.

I have been deeply interested in the work that Dr. Riley and his collaborators have been carrying out during recent years. It is evident that he has a thoroughly sound training in physical chemistry, and that he is a man of unusual originality and effectiveness. He has a thorough understanding of modern methods of investigating the structure of large molecules, including the several physical chemical techniques and the x-ray diffraction techniques.

I consider the work that he has carried out during the last two years, on the determination of the principal ways of folding of polypeptide chains in the globular proteins through the determination of radical distribution functions to be of the greatest importance. Dr. Riley and his collaborator, Dr. Arndt, have shown that the radial distribution method is far more powerful than it had been expected to be, and that it can be used to distinguish between the right-handed α helix and the left-handed α helix of L-amino-acid polypeptide chains. This work has been characterized not only by boldness but also by originality. Similar originality is evident in his work on the determination of the shape of nucleic acid molecules in solution by the analysis of the x-ray diffraction pattern.

I had the pleasure of spending a day with Dr. Riley in London last month, and also of talking with him several times

Principal, Queen’s University, Page 2 21/5/53

in the summer of 1952. He has impressed me as having a fine personality. I am confident that he would be an unusually successful lecturer, and in general I feel that I can recommend him strongly for the Chowh Research Professorship.

Sincerely yours,

Linus Pauling:W

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