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Posted: 16 July 2007

Nobel laureate in ‘green chemistry’ awarded UCD Ulysses Medal

US Nobel Laureate, Professor Robert H. Grubbs, whose scientific work led to more efficient chemical making methods that produce less hazardous wastes, has been awarded the UCD Ulysses Medal. The award was presented to Professor Grubbs at the 15th European Symposium on Organic Chemistry (ESOC) which took place in UCD on Friday 13 July 2007.

In 2005, alongside Richard R. Schrock and Yves Chauvin, Professor Grubbs was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for explaining and improving a process 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.

"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."

The UCD Ulysses Medal is the highest academic honour 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 Sharpe; Irish Author, Edna O’Brien; and US Philosopher, Professor Hilary Putnam.

At the ESOC, Professor Grubbs delivered a lecture entitled Olefin Catalysis for the Synthesis of Large and Small Molecules in which he outlined the 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), who organised this year’s conference. “The seminal contributions of Professor Grubbs and his group have shaped the way that modern chemistry is carried out.”

The ESOC conference which took place at UCD from 8-13 July was the largest organic chemistry event ever to be held in Ireland.

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Nobel laureate in ‘green chemistry’ awarded UCD Ulysses Medal