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Nobel Prize–Winning Chemist Robert Grubbs to Speak at Bard College on Thursday, September 26

Darren O'Sullivan

ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.—On Thursday, September 26, Nobel Prize–winning chemist Robert Grubbs, Victor and Elizabeth Atkins Professor of Chemistry at California Institute of Technology (Caltech), will speak at Bard College. His lecture, “Green Chemistry: Examples from Catalysis,” is free, open to the public, and takes place at  6 p.m. in Olin Hall. The talk is supported by the Dreyfus Foundation and Bard College.

Robert Grubbs is an organic chemist whose work on catalysis has led to a wide variety of applications in medicine and industry. He received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2005 for his work in the field of olefin metathesis. Metathesis is an organic reaction in which chemists selectively strip out certain atoms in a compound and replace them with atoms that were previously part of another compound. The end result is a custom-built molecule that has specialized properties that can lead to better drugs for the treatment of disease, or better electrical conducting properties for specialized plastics, for example. Prior to Grubbs’s work, metathesis was poorly understood and of limited value to scientists. Grubbs developed powerful new catalysts for metathesis that enabled custom synthesis of valuable molecules, such as pharmaceuticals and new polymers with novel materials properties. According to the Nobel citation, metathesis has already led to industrial and pharmaceutical methods that are more efficient and less wasteful, simpler, and more environmentally friendly. “This represents a great step forward for ‘green chemistry,’ reducing potentially hazardous waste through smarter production,” the Royal Swedish Academy stated. “Metathesis is an example of how important, basic science has been applied for the benefit of man, society, and the environment.”

Grubbs is a native of Kentucky who earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Florida. After completing his doctorate in chemistry at Columbia University, he spent a year at Stanford University as a postdoctoral fellow, and joined the Michigan State University faculty in 1969. He came to Caltech in 1978, and has been the Victor and Elizabeth Atkins Professor of Chemistry since 1990. Grubbs has been a member of the National Academy of Sciences since 1989, and was the 2000 recipient of the Benjamin Franklin Medal.

For more information, contact Swapan Jain at

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This event was last updated on 09-24-2013