The Columns

2005 Nobel Prize Winner Robert H. Grubbs to Give Public Lecture

— by on March 12th, 2008

Robert H. Grubbs, the 2005 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, will give a public lecture on Thursday, March 27, at 4 p.m. in room A214 in the Science Center at Washington and Lee University. The title of the talk will be “Where Fundamental Science Can Take You: Olefin Metathesis.” There will be a reception starting at 3:30 p.m. in the Great Hall of the Science Center.

Dr. Grubbs is the Victor and Elizabeth Atkins Professor of Chemistry at the California Institute of Technology. His research is in the area of olefin metathesis.

The Nobel Prize Committee described Grubbs’ work this way: “The word metathesis means ‘change-places.’ In metathesis reactions, double bonds are broken and made between carbon atoms in ways that cause atom groups to change places. This happens with the assistance of special catalyst molecules. Metathesis can be compared to a dance in which the couples change partners.” His contribution included the development of active, air-stable catalysts for this reaction, which has found industrial applications, most prominently in the area of pharmaceuticals and new plastic materials.

A member of the National Academy of Sciences and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Dr. Grubbs has been the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the ACS National Award in Organometallic Chemistry, The ACS Award in Polymer Chemistry, the Arthur C. Cope Award, the Fluka Prize for Reagent of the Year, the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Chemistry and the Tetrahedron Prize for Creativity in Organic Chemistry.

Dr. Grubbs shared the 2005 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with two other chemists, Yves Chauvin of the Institute Française du Pétrole, Rueill-Malmaison, France, and Richard Schrock of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

He received his B.S. and M.S. from the University of Florida and his Ph.D. from Columbia University.