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ACS News

Joseph S. Francisco receives 2023 Theodore William Richards Medal Award

by Sara Cottle
April 26, 2024 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 102, Issue 13


Joseph S. Francisco.
Credit: Photo courtesy of Joseph S. Francisco
2023 Theodore William Richards Medal Award recipient Joseph S. Francisco

Joseph S. Francisco, the President’s Distinguished Professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Science and professor of chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania, has received the 2023 Theodore William Richards Medal Award for conspicuous achievement in chemistry. The award is named in honor of the first US Nobel laureate in chemistry and is awarded every 2 years by the Northeastern Section of the American Chemical Society. It is the section’s oldest and most prestigious award. Previous recipients of the honor include 12 Nobel laureates and other scientific luminaries. Francisco is the 47th recipient of the award, which was presented on Thursday, March 14, at Harvard University.

Francisco has made significant contributions in the area of atmospheric chemistry by applying new tools from experimental physical and theoretical chemistry to atmospheric chemical problems. He pioneered the study of radical-molecule complexes, discovering a new class of association species that are held together by strong hydrogen bonding. His contribution to atmospheric catalysis is illustrated by the discovery of a new class of reactions involving double hydrogen atom transfer, which led to the learning that water can act to catalyze reactions that are otherwise inhibited. This work laid the foundation for significant contributions to atmospheric chemical processes at cloud-aerosol interfaces and paved the way for important discoveries of new chemistries and new types of chemical bonding.


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