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Nobel Laureate Professor to Deliver Carleton’s Mohrig Lecture in Chemistry

April 22, 2013

Robert H. Grubbs, the Victor and Elizabeth Atkins Professor of Chemistry at the California Institute of Technology, whose many honors include the 2005 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, will deliver the annual Carleton College Jerry and Jean Mohrig Lecture in Chemistry at on Thursday, Apr. 25. Entitled “Olefin Metathesis Catalysts for the Preparation of Molecules and Materials,” Grubbs’ presentation will take place at 7:30 p.m. in Room 149 of Olin Hall, and is free and open to the public.

Grubb’s primary focus will be on the serious need for new practices within the chemical industry, as petroleum continues to become more expensive and the control of carbon dioxide emissions becomes a higher priority. Grubbs will draw upon his work on olefin metathesis to give examples of how catalysis can be used to meet the challenges imposed by a changing world. Catalytic processes provide green methods of producing many old and new chemicals and open new sources of carbon. 

The Grubbs research group at Caltech focuses on the discovery and understanding of catalysts, which are used widely in the chemical industry as well as academia for the preparation of important organic compounds and polymers. The olefin metathesis reaction, discovered in Grubbs’ laboratory, is now used commercially to prepare new pharmaceuticals, composites for structural applications and for the conversion of renewable carbon sources into fuels and commodity chemicals. For his work on olefin metathesis, Grubbs, along with Yves Chauvin and Richard R. Schrock, was awarded the 2005 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

In addition to his 2005 Nobel Prize, Grubbs is the recipient of an ACS Award in Polymer Chemistry (1995), a Benjamin Franklin Medal in Chemistry (2000), a Pauling Award Medal (2003), an Arthur C. Cope Award (ACS) (2002), a Havinga Medal (2006) (Leiden University), a Golden Plate Award (2006) (Academy of Achievement), an ACS Award for Creative Invention (2009), a Gold Medal of the American Institute of Chemists (2010), and an ACS Roger Adams Award in Organic Chemistry (2011). He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences (1989), and served as a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1994), the Honorary Fellowship of the Royal Society of Chemistry (2006), the Fellows of the American Chemical Society (2009), and an ACS Polymer Division Fellow (2010).

Grubbs has taught at Caltech since 1978, having previously taught at Michigan State University. He holds degrees from Columbia University and the University of Florida. He has 500+ publications and 115+ patents based on his research.

The Jerry and Jean Mohrig Lecture in Chemistry was established in 2006 through a gift from Jerry Mohrig, who taught chemistry at Carleton from 1967 to 2003. The lecture brings renowned chemists to Carleton to deliver a lecture to the chemistry department, spend time with senior chemistry majors (as part of their senior comps projects) and deliver a public lecture on their broader insights concerning science and society.

For more information about this event, including disability accommodations, contact assistant professor of chemistry Matt Whited at (507) 222-4530. The Olin Hall of Science is located near the end of Olin Drive on the Carleton College campus.

Written by Jacob Cohn '13