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February 6, 2006
Volume 84, Number 06
pp. 34-38

2006 ACS National Award Winners

Recipients are honored for contributions of major significance to chemistry

Following is the sixth set of vignettes of recipients of awards administered by the American Chemical Society for 2006. C&EN will publish the vignettes of the remaining recipients in successive February issues. An article on Paul S. Anderson, 2006 Priestley Medalist, is scheduled to appear in the March 27 issue of C&EN, along with his award address.

Most of the award recipients will be honored at an awards ceremony, which will be held on Tuesday, March 28, in conjunction with the 231st ACS national meeting in Atlanta. The Arthur C. Cope Scholar awardees will be honored at the 232nd ACS national meeting in San Francisco, Sept. 10-14.

ACS Award in Theoretical Chemistry

Sponsored by IBM

The description of the behavior of large collections of atoms and molecules requires a combination of efforts: computer simulation methods and clever applications of statistical mechanics theory. Not many chemists master both.

Courtesy of Hans C. Andersen


During the past two decades, however, work by Hans C. Andersen, David Mulvane Ehrsam & Edward Curtis Franklin Professor of Chemistry at Stanford University, has made it possible for the area of chemistry known as molecular dynamics to explode. On the foundation laid by Andersen's work, scientists have been able to examine the properties and interactions of gases, liquids, and solids.

The early molecular dynamics strategies, based on Newton's equations of motion and statistical mechanical principles, were developed in the 1950s and '60s. But these simulations didn't realistically mimic experimental conditions. In the methodology available at the time, the energy, volume, and number of particles in a molecular dynamics simulation were kept constant. But that's not usually representative of experimental conditions, where systems are typically maintained at constant temperature and pressure. For example, the nucleation of liquid materials into the solid phase can involve large volume changes.

In 1980, Andersen published a paper in the Journal of Chemical Physics that offered a solution to that problem. By altering and making additions to the equations of motion, Andersen showed how to perform molecular dynamics simulations for systems based on constant pressure and temperature. The work allowed molecular dynamics to explode as a discipline.

"It is rare that a single paper has such a profound and lasting impact," says Michele Parrinello, chemistry professor at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich, and a pioneer in molecular dynamics.

Andersen's peers note that his contributions to theoretical chemistry extend beyond this earlier work, including his modeling studies of liquids, amorphous materials, crystal nucleation, and phase transitions. "The breadth of Hans Andersen's contributions to theoretical chemistry is truly remarkable," says David Chandler, chemistry professor at the University of California, Berkeley.

Andersen was born in 1941 in Brooklyn, N.Y. He received a bachelor's degree in chemistry in 1962 and a Ph.D. in 1966, both from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He spent three years at Harvard University as a junior fellow, then went to Stanford, where he has been ever since. At Stanford, Andersen has served in various directorial roles at the university's Center for Materials Research. He was chair of the chemistry department from 2002 to 2005.

His numerous awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1976 and the ACS Joel Henry Hildebrand Award in the Theoretical & Experimental Chemistry of Liquids in 1988. He has been a fellow of the American Physical Society since 1984, the American Association for the Advancement of Science since 1991, and the American Academy of Arts & Sciences since 1992. He has also been a member of the National Academy of Sciences since 1992.

Andersen has served as chair of the ACS Division of Physical Chemistry and on the editorial boards of several journals, including the Journal of Chemical Physics.

The award address will be presented before the Division of Physical Chemistry.—Elizabeth Wilson

E. V. Murphree Award in Industrial & Engineering Chemistry

Sponsored by ExxonMobil Research & Engineering Co. and ExxonMobil Chemical Co.

Liang-Shih Fan, Distinguished University Professor and C. John Easton Professor of Engineering at Ohio State University's department of chemical and biomolecular engineering, has devoted his career to the theory and application of fluidization, multiphase flow, powder reaction engineering, and powder technology. These areas are of relevance to energy and environmental systems and of direct interest to chemical, petrochemical, mineral, and material industries.

Courtesy of Lian-Shih Fan


Specifically, the 58-year-old chemical engineer is being honored for his pioneering contributions to the theory and practice of fluidized-bed technologies, including his invention and commercialization of two clean-coal processes: OSCAR (Ohio State Carbonation Ash Reactivation) and CARBONOX (carbon-based NOx reduction technology), which have been described as good choices for power plants that burn the high-sulfur coals of the eastern U.S.

So far, the strategic fluidization operations developed by Fan have been incorporated into a number of commercial fluidized-bed systems, including multisolid fluidized-bed coal combustors as well as fluidized-bed reactors for production of acrylonitrile and maleic anhydride.

Fan's research career has been distinguished by many "firsts." Among these, he pioneered the development of the first three-dimensional electrical capacitance volume tomography for instantaneous and simultaneous flow-field visualization and quantification for gas-liquid, gas-solid, and gas-liquid-solid fluidization systems. His study led to his discovery of a coherent 3-D flow structure and identification of a new three-phase fluidization regime known as the "helical-vortical regime."

He also developed a novel transparent high-pressure and high-temperature flow rig for multiphase flow research. The rig has been used to derive widely recognized high-P and high-T bubble dynamic theories and to develop experimental techniques for in situ physical property measurements for industrial reactor systems.

His contributions in powder reaction engineering are immense and include one of the most important discoveries in recent years in sorbent reaction chemistry. Specifically, his marker and isotope experiments led to the discovery of the outward ionic diffusion mechanism underlying the reaction of SO2 with CaO powder.

Fan earned a B.S. degree from National Taiwan University and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from West Virginia University, all in chemical engineering. He did three years of postdoctoral research and earned an M.S. in statistics from Kansas State University before joining the Ohio State faculty in 1978.

At Ohio State, Fan has risen through the ranks and served as department chair from 1994 to 2003. In 2005, he was awarded the Joseph Sullivant Medal, which is given only once every five years and is the highest honor that Ohio State can bestow upon one of its alumni or faculty for eminent achievement.

He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2001. Among his other recognitions, Fan received the Malcolm E. Pruitt Award of the Council for Chemical Research in 2000, the American Society for Engineering Education Chemical Engineering Division Union Carbide Lectureship Award in 1999, and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers Alpha Chi Sigma Award for Chemical Engineering Research in 1996.

Fan has authored or coauthored three books, 20 book chapters, 14 patents, 290 refereed papers, and 250 conference papers. The award address will be presented before the Division of Industrial & Engineering Chemistry.—Linda Raber

ACS Award in Colloid & Surface Chemistry

Sponsored by Procter & Gamble

The physical and chemical processes governing the behavior of complex fluids such as colloidal and polymer solutions result from a delicate balance of weak forces. Although they are subtle in detail, the properties of such "macromolecular" liquids are important in wetting, self-assembly, microfluidic control, and many biological processes. Alice P. Gast has made seminal contributions in understanding these processes and their influence on bulk properties through a combination of colloid science, polymer physics, and statistical mechanics.

Photo by Donna Coveney, MIT


Gast, 47, is the Robert T. Haslam Professor of Chemical Engineering and vice president for research and associate provost at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her research focuses on a wide range of topics, including macromolecules at interfaces, disorder-order transitions and wetting in colloidal suspensions, magneto-rheological fluids, and microfluidics.

William B. Russel, dean of the graduate school at Princeton University, says of Gast: "Her research program is characterized by her perceptive choice of exciting, but not obvious, problems; exploitation of sophisticated optical microscopy plus light, neutron, and X-ray scattering to probe and visualize structure; effective use of statistical mechanics to model the phenomena of interest; and timely and appealing publication in journals of the highest quality."

"My interest is in systems where the intermolecular forces and interparticle forces are sufficient to cause macroscopic property changes," Gast says. "With submicron-sized particles—nanoparticles, they are called nowadays—there is a lot of surface area, and surface-surface interactions between particles determine macroscopic properties."

Gast says that she has "migrated" during her career from colloidal particles to polymers to lipids and biological molecules that associate into membranes. "Cell membranes and cells are of the same size scale as colloidal particles, and similar forces determine how they will interact," she says. Gast's group is investigating, for example, the unique crystallization properties of proteins tethered to lipid monolayers. In these studies, fluorescence microscopy reveals ordering phenomena of great interest for both biological applications and fundamental physics. Point mutations allow the researchers to alter the protein-protein interactions in a systematic and detailed way and to investigate the molecular basis for the ordering behavior.

"It is a tremendously exciting time in colloid and surface chemistry," Gast says. "We have measurement techniques to measure forces down to piconewtons and smaller, tremendous visualization techniques like atomic force microscopy and fluorescence microscopy, and computational techniques powerful enough to tackle many-body problems. Systems that you study on a computer, you can now actually see in the laboratory. I am tremendously optimistic about the field."

Gast is also deeply involved in policy issues. She is currently cochairing the National Academies Committee on a New Government-University Partnership for Science & Security and serves on the Department of Homeland Security Science & Technology Advisory Committee.

Gast received a bachelor of science degree in chemical engineering from the University of Southern California in 1980 and master's and Ph.D. degrees from Princeton University in 1981 and 1984, respectively. She began her career at Stanford University in 1985, becoming a full professor in 1995. She assumed her current position at MIT in 2001. She has received numerous honors during her career, including election to the National Academy of Engineering in 2001.

The award address will be presented before the Division of Colloid & Surface Chemistry.—Rudy Baum

Frances P. Garvan-John M. Olin Medal

Sponsored by the Francis P. Garvan-John M. Olin Medal Endowment

Although Lila M. Gierasch was encouraged by her parents from an early age to ask "why" and to use mathematical logic, it was really her high school science teachers who made the difference, she says. "They fostered my interest in math and science. I particularly enjoyed chemistry, but I was also attracted to biology and physics. It pleases me that my career has embraced the intersection of these three, which is essentially biophysical chemistry."

Photo by Lisa Korpiewski, U of Massachusetts


As an undergrad at Mount Holyoke, she didn't really know what field would approach the questions of biology with the tools of physics and chemistry until she took a biophysics course and realized that she wanted to go further in this area.

Understanding the basic underpinnings of biological phenomena has always been Gierasch's motivation. "It is increasingly evident that biology requires proteins to fold in a challenging environment with fidelity, or devastating consequences will ensue. Misfolding and aggregation are behind many neurodegenerative and other diseases, including Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, spongiform encephalopathies, and cystic fibrosis."

Gierasch, 57, has made many important fundamental contributions to understanding the relationship between amino acid sequence and the preferred conformations of peptides and proteins. Her work helped establish the now-common approach of using peptide fragments to examine functionally important interactions of proteins. She has explored the mechanism of recognition of a broad spectrum of protein substrates by using molecular chaperones. She has described the energy landscape for the folding of a β-barrel protein, CRABP, and determined that small changes in its sequence can lead to aggregation both in vitro and in cells. Her findings suggest that a misfolded monomeric state nucleates aggregation.

Her colleagues say that she "epitomizes distinguished service to chemistry" because she is a gifted teacher who is comfortable at every student level, she is a superbly effective organizer, and she is devoted to the advancement of women in the sciences. She is internationally recognized as an outstanding scientist.

Gierasch received an A.B. in chemistry from Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, Mass., in 1970 and a Ph.D. in biophysics from Harvard University in 1975. She began her career at Amherst College as an assistant professor of chemistry in 1974. She moved through the ranks at the University of Delaware, the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, and finally the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where she was head of the chemistry department from 1994 to 1999, and of the biochemistry and molecular biology department from 1999 to 2005, and is now professor in both departments.

Among the many honors and awards she has received are the A. P. Sloan Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Vincent du Vigneaud Award for Young Investigators in Peptide Research, the Chancellor's Medal from the University of Massachusetts, and a D.Sc. honoris causa from Mount Holyoke College.

She is the author of nearly 200 papers and has been the editor or adviser for several important chemistry and biochemistry journals.

The award address will be presented before the Division of Biological Chemistry.—Janet Dodd

Herbert C. Brown Award for Creative Research in Synthetic Methods

Sponsored by the Purdue Borane Research Fund and the Herbert C. Brown Award Endowment

Richard F. Heck, Willis F. Harrington Professor Emeritus at the University of Delaware, is best known for the palladium-mediated coupling of an aryl halide or vinylic halide with an alkene, the reaction that bears his name. The importance of this reaction cannot be overstated. For example, in 1982, Heck's chapter in "Organic Reactions" covered all the known uses of this reaction in 45 pages, but by 2002, applications had grown such that 377 pages were written about the intramolecular Heck reactions alone.

Courtesy of Richard Heck


Heck, 74, received a B.S. degree at the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1952. He remained at UCLA and did graduate research with Saul Winstein in the area of neighboring-group participation in the solvolysis of arylsulfonates. After receiving his Ph.D., Heck studied at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich, with Vladimir Prelog. There, he carried out research on the solvolysis of medium-sized cycloalkyl arylsulfonates. He then returned to UCLA and Winstein's group to do more research on neighboring-group effects.

In 1956, Heck joined the staff of Hercules Powder Co., in Wilmington, Del. He started working to form crystalline polymers from polar monomers (vinyl ethers). His study of hydroformylation led to the first proposed mechanism for a transition-metal-catalyzed reaction.

In 1971, he joined the faculty at the University of Delaware, where he continued to study organopalladium chemistry. Of the several reactions that Heck developed there, the coupling of an alkyne with an aryl halide has had a profound impact on science. Its use to couple fluorescent dyes to DNA bases has allowed the automation of DNA sequencing and the elucidation of the human genome. This coupling is called the Sonogashira reaction, a modification of the alkyne-coupling procedure reported by Heck a year earlier. K. Sonogashira's modification was to add a Cu(I) cocatalyst.

Heck's work set the stage for a variety of other Pd-catalyzed couplings, including those with boronic acid derivatives (Suzuki), organotins (Stille), organonickel compounds (Kumada), silanes (Hiyama), and organozincs (Negishi), as well as with alcohols and amines.

Heck's contributions are not limited to the activation of halides by the oxidative addition of Pd(0). Heck was the first to fully characterize a π-allyl metal complex and also the first to elucidate the mechanism of alkene hydroformylation, a reaction that currently is used to produce 15 billion lb of alcohols and aldehydes per year.

Heck retired to Florida in 1989. In 2004, the department of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of Delaware established the Richard F. Heck Lectureship in his honor, and he presented the inaugural lecture.

Heck will present his address before the Division of Organic Chemistry.—Linda Raber

James Flack Norris Award in Physical Organic Chemistry

Sponsored by the ACS Northeastern Section

Electron-transfer mechanisms are fundamental and ubiquitous in chemistry. They are a lot better understood because of the work of Michael R. Wasielewski, chemistry professor at Northwestern University. His combination of synthetic modeling, ultrafast laser spectroscopy, and time-resolved magnetic resonance studies has provided insights into the fundamental relationship between molecular structure and the dynamics of electron transfer between organic molecules.

Courtesy of Michael Wasielewski


Energy has been the focus of Wasielewski's research since the mid-1970s, when he first became concerned about Earth's energy capacity and storage. While many of us were sitting in gasoline lines, Wasielewski was gathering knowledge and beginning to make connections between intriguing new techniques that would enable him to see into the heart of photosynthesis.

At the photosynthetic reaction center, electron-transfer reactions occur in picoseconds, much too fast to be investigated with any of the standard techniques that were in use at that time. An additional complication is the extremely complex environment in which these reactions occur; many factors are in play, and separating the various effects was just not possible then.

Wasielewski, 56, recalls that in the mid-'70s fast laser technology provided the first opportunity to measure the rates of the primary photosynthetic reactions. At the same time, the field of biomimetics-the use of systems found in nature to study and design other systems-was also taking off. He combined these approaches in his investigations.

Cofactors of proteins involved in photosynthesis are fixed in space, so to mimic this setup, Wasielewski and his group created rigid structures similar to those involved in nature and used fast laser spectroscopy to measure the rate of electron transfer. By modifying the structures, they were able to study the effect of changes in molecular structure on the dynamics of electron transfer.

It took nearly 20 years, he says, to mimic the major aspects of these biological reactions. In the photosynthetic system, transfer takes place one electron at a time, but the nature of the electron spin dynamics complicates the ability to get at the core of how photosynthesis occurs. Wasielewski painstakingly peeled away the layers, and he's still awed that his group succeeded in getting to that core. "The properties are very subtle," he says, "and the range of possibilities to 'get it right' is very narrow."

Wasielewski has applied his systematic, what he calls "fine-grid," approach to study electron transfer in organic materials as well. Current work in his lab is focused on using organic molecules in solar cells and electronics for information processing. With an eye to using photo-driven materials to replace existing materials that require electricity to function, Wasielewski is staying true to his original muse.

Wasielewski received his education at the University of Chicago, earning three chemistry degrees: B.S. in 1971, M.S. in 1972, and Ph.D. in 1975. After completing a postdoc at Columbia University, Wasielewski returned to the Chicago area for a second postdoc, this one at Argonne National Laboratory.

In 1977, he was hired as a chemist by Argonne and he moved through the ranks to become the molecular photonics group leader in 1993, a position he held until 1999, when he left the lab. Starting in 1994, Wasielewski also was a professor in Northwestern's department of chemistry; he chaired that department from 2001 to 2004.

He has served his scientific community as a member of several advisory committees at Northwestern and Argonne; as the organizer of several conferences, including a 1994 Gordon Conference on Electron Donor-Acceptor Interactions; and as a member of the editorial board for the Journal of Photochemistry & Photobiology A: Chemistry.

Among his awards are the Inter-American Photochemical Society Research Award (2004) and the University of Chicago Award for Distinguished Performance at Argonne (1989). Wasielewski received R&D Magazine's R&D 100 Award in 1993 for work in molecular switches and in 1999 for work in photorefractivity.

He's a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and he's also been a named lecturer at many universities and companies. Wasielewski is closing in on 300 published articles.

The award address will be presented before the Division of Organic Chemistry.—Robin Giroux

Glenn T. Seaborg Award for Nuclear Chemistry

Sponsored by the ACS Division of Nuclear Chemistry & Technology

Steven W. Yates, professor of chemistry, physics, and astronomy and currently chair of the department of chemistry at the University of Kentucky, has made contributions in all areas of his profession as a researcher and an educator, as an editor and a writer, and as a member of government and private-sector science panels. This award recognizes him for his groundbreaking studies of multiphonon excitations in atomic nuclei and for the development of techniques for measuring very short nuclear lifetimes.

Yates, 59, received a B.S. degree in chemistry from the University of Missouri, Columbia, in 1968 and a Ph.D. in nuclear chemistry from Purdue University in 1973, where he studied with Patrick Daly.

Photo by Tim Collins


Following his dissertation work at Purdue, during which he characterized a new class of negative-parity states in transitional nuclei and explained them in terms of the semidecoupled model, he accepted a two-year postdoctoral fellowship at Argonne National Laboratory. While there, he investigated the properties of actinide nuclei, primarily by light-ion-scattering and transfer reactions. These investigations led to meaningful predictions, based on single-particle energies, of the ultimate stability of superheavy elements.

In 1975, Yates moved to the University of Kentucky, where he initiated a program of nuclear structure studies. His early work, with measurements performed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, included the first observation of the backbending phenomenon in the γ-vibrational band of a deformed nucleus. This discovery was key in describing backbending in terms of rotational band interactions and band crossings.

In the late 1970s, Yates began the experiments for which he is best known at the University of Kentucky's Van de Graaff accelerator. Although the inelastic neutron-scattering reaction, first characterized by Glenn T. Seaborg and his colleagues, had been used by others, Yates can be credited with recognizing and developing the spectroscopic power of this reaction and exploiting its potential.

Yates's studies of multiphonon excitations in spherical and deformed nuclei are his most enduring contributions. The identification of both the K = 0 and K = 4 two-phonon γ-vibrational excitations in a deformed nucleus is a remarkable achievement; however, Yates's efforts to understand the octupole excitations are even more significant. In nuclei near the 82-neutron shell closure, he found early evidence for complete multiplets of quadrupole-octupole coupled states, and his search for two-phonon octupole states led to the identification of the 0+ member of the long-sought two-phonon quartet in 208Pb.

This result provided a textbook example of collective excitations in nuclei and must be regarded as confirming the existence of two-phonon octupole vibrations. His group later provided candidates for two additional members of this quartet. Because these identifications rely on knowledge of electric dipole transition rates, his group then launched a study to understand these transitions in spherical nuclei. This work led to the characterization of perhaps the finest example of weak coupling in nuclei.

Yates's most recent work has focused on determining how persistent quadrupole vibrations are in nuclei. He and his colleagues have characterized complete three-phonon multiplets in several nuclei, and, if four-phonon multiplets still retain their collective character, his group holds promise for identifying these excitations as well.

His contributions in other areas are also notable. In addition to receiving both university- and student-initiated awards for his teaching, he has been a regular contributor of educational articles in the Journal of Chemical Education. He has been involved in ACS's Summer Schools in Nuclear Chemistry since their inception. Ten doctoral and seven master's students working under his direction have received degrees, and he has mentored more than a dozen postdocs.

The award address will be presented before the Division of Nuclear Chemistry & Technology.—Linda Raber

Nominations for Skolnik Award

The ACS Division of Chemical Information is seeking nominations for the Herman Skolnik Award, which recognizes outstanding contributions to and achievements in the theory and practice of chemical information science.

Examples of such advancement include, but are not limited to, design of new and unique computerized information systems; preparation and dissemination of chemical information; editorial innovations; design of new indexing, classification, and notation systems; chemical nomenclature; structure-activity relationships; numerical data correlation and evaluation; and advancement of knowledge in the field.

Nominations should describe the nominee's contributions to the field of chemical information and should include supporting materials. Three seconding letters are also required. All materials must be sent by e-mail to by June 1.

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