Northwestern University and the ACS Chicago Section are recognizing John E. Bercaw's work in inorganic chemistry with the 2005 Fred Basolo Medal. Bercaw, Centennial Professor of Chemistry at California Institute of Technology, will deliver the award lecture at Northwestern University Technological Institute, Evans-ton, Ill., on Oct. 21.
Bercaw's research areas include early-transition-metal chemistry and applications to Ziegler-Natta olefin polymerization. He also investigates late-transition-metal chemistry complexes relevant to alkane oxidation catalysis. His work includes new compound synthesis and subsequent characterization by multinuclear nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometry and by single-crystal X-ray diffraction methods.
Another area of Bercaw's work involves reaction mechanism studies using isotopic labeling, characterization of intermediates, dynamic NMR techniques, and monitoring of reaction kinetics and stereochemistry. These studies are directed toward assessing the roles of transition metals in catalysis and developing new stoichiometric and catalytic reactions for converting readily available molecules such as olefins and alkanes into more valuable products.