Issue Date: January 8, 2018
Joel Henry Hildebrand Award in the Theoretical & Experimental Chemistry of Liquids: Lawrence R. Pratt
Sponsor: ExxonMobil Research & Engineering
Citation: For outstanding contributions to the theory of hydrophobic interactions, polar and ionic solutions, and the statistical mechanical treatment of solvation-free energies.
Current position: professor and Herman & George R. Brown Chair in Chemical Engineering, Tulane University
Education: B.S., chemistry, Michigan State University; M.S., chemistry, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; Ph.D., chemistry, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Pratt on his biggest research challenge: “Understanding water and aqueous solutions well enough to make cogent and plausible responses to long-term questions of astrobiologist collaborators: ‘Is water necessary for life?’ Our discussion of the physical chemistry was published in 2012 as ‘Is Water the Universal Solvent for Life?’ In that publication we identified seven other solvents as possibilities—including formamide, which might be produced in planetary environments by combination of H2O and HCN, thus making even it an available possibility.”
What his colleagues say: “Without question, Lawrence Pratt has played a key role in the conceptual development of many different areas of liquid-state science. His work shapes the way we think today both quantitatively and qualitatively about many fundamental theoretical issues. His research uses the most sophisticated theoretical concepts but very often applies them to real problems of direct practical and experimental interest, in the tradition of Joel Hildebrand himself.”—John Weeks, University of Maryland
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