Issue Date: January 8, 2018
Gabor A. Somorjai Award for Creative Research in Catalysis: David W. C. MacMillan
Sponsor: Gabor A. & Judith K. Somorjai Endowment Fund
Citation: For his pioneering work in the development of organocatalysis, including fundamentally new methods based on radical intermediates, SOMO catalysis, and photoredox catalysis.
Current position: James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor of Chemistry and chair of the department of chemistry, Princeton University
Education: B.Sc., chemistry, University of Glasgow; Ph.D., organic chemistry, University of California, Irvine
MacMillan on what gets his creative juices flowing: “An unusual result, a key insight, or a new understanding of a chemical concept that you have found in the lab. It’s like finding a hidden trap door in the back of an attic and when you look down inside—it’s full of gold (or even wine). It’s a great feeling when it happens, and I only wish it would happen more often.”
What his colleagues say: “Organocatalysis has become the single most published-on field of catalysis in the world. Moreover, primarily due to MacMillan’s contributions, practical applications on large scale have begun to emerge. Further, a second field that he invented, photoredox catalysis, has the promise to be even more important than organocatalysis. MacMillan’s work has been carried out with an exceptional level of scholarship, focusing on what is important and conceptually innovative. His work has been and will continue to be used by others.”—Stephen L. Buchwald, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
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