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Keith Fagnou

by Susan J. Ainsworth
December 14, 2009 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 87, Issue 50

Keith Fagnou, 38, an associate professor of chemistry at the University of Ottawa and a rising star in the field of organic chemistry, died on Nov. 11 after a brief illness.

Fagnou received a B.Ed. from the University of Saskatchewan in 1995. He then earned an M.S. in 2000 and a Ph.D. in synthetic organic chemistry in 2002, both from the University of Toronto. Upon completing his education, he joined the University of Ottawa’s faculty. In 2007, he was promoted to associate professor and awarded a University of Ottawa Research Chair in the Development of Novel Catalytic Transformations.

In his research, Fagnou focused on the discovery of new chiral catalysts to enable reactions for the synthesis of medicinal compounds and small natural products. He was also interested in developing new reactions that avoid unnecessary activation of substrates and that can instead directly functionalize C–H bonds of simple molecules and introduce C–C bonds.

Fagnou received numerous awards, including the 2003 Polanyi Prize. This past summer, he received the Organometallic Chemistry Directed Towards Organic Synthesis Award, which is presented every two years to a scientist under 40 for outstanding research contributions. He was an ACS member, joining the society in 2000.

Fagnou is survived by his wife, Danielle Gervais-Fagnou, and three children, Zachary, Clara, and Samuel.

Susan J. Ainsworth writes obituaries. Obituary notices may be sent to and should include a detailed educational and professional history.


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