October 16, 2007
Nobel Laureate in "Green Chemistry" receives UCD Ulysses Medal

US Nobel Laureate Professor Robert H. Grubbs, whose work has led to more efficient and more environmentally friendly chemical synthesis methods, has been presented with the UCD Ulysses Medal.  Professor Grubbs visited UCD to attend the 15th European Symposium on Organic Chemistry (ESOC 2007) on July 13, 2007.

In 2005, alongside Richard R. Schrock and Yves Chauvin, Professor Grubbs was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the development of a synthetic method known as metathesis - the swapping of atoms between molecules to create new substances.

The process has become one of the most important reactions in organic chemistry. It is used in the creation of new drugs to fight diseases such as cancer and AIDS, and also in the development of new fuels. His work is recognised as a great step forward for ‘green chemistry,’ reducing potentially hazardous waste through smarter productions.

The UCD Ulysses Medal is the highest academic accolade that University College Dublin can bestow. Previous recipients include founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, Professor Klaus Schwab; Nobel economist, Professor James J Heckman; Nobel laureate, Dr Philip Sharp; Irish Author, Edna O’Brien; and US Philosopher, Professor Hilary Putnam.

"It is a great honour to present the sixth UCD Ulysses Medal to Professor Bob Grubbs,” said Professor Des Fitzgerald, Vice-President for Research at UCD. “His work has had a major impact on synthetic chemistry and has enormous potential applications in medicine and the polymer industry."

During his Ulysses Medal lecture entitled "Olefin Catalysis for the Synthesis of Large and Small Molecules", Professor Grubbs, California Institute of Technology, outlined current applications of his catalysts including the replacement of petroleum based chemicals with those from renewable resources including seed oil and the use of his methodology in medicine.

"We are hugely privileged to have Professor Grubbs deliver a paper at the ESOC in Dublin,” said Professor Pat Guiry, Director of the Centre for Synthesis and Chemical Biology (CSCB). “The seminal contributions of Professor Grubbs and his group have shaped the way that modern chemistry is carried out.”


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