On October 18, the 2005 Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry, Robert H. Grubbs, was invited to give a special lecture in the ScienceBuilding. The lecture was organized by the department of chemistry to celebrate the 120th anniversary of Ewha and the 55th anniversary of the Department of Chemistry.
Grubbs’ lecture was titled “Olefin Metathesis Catalysts for the Preparation of Molecules and Materials.” A 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.Grubbs was awarded the Nobel Prize for developing powerful new catalysts for metathesis that enabled custom synthesis of valuable molecules, including pharmaceuticals and new polymers with novel materials properties.
Grubbs was is a native of Kentucky and earned his bachelor's and master's degrees at the University of Florida. After completing his doctorate in chemistry at ColumbiaUniversity, he spent a year at StanfordUniversity as a postdoctoral fellow, and then joined the MichiganStateUniversity faculty in 1969. He moved to Caltech in 1978 with full tenure as a professor, and has been the Victor and Elizabeth Atkins Professor of Chemistry there since 1990. He has been a member of the National Academy of Sciences since 1989, and was the 2000 recipient of the Benjamin Franklin Medal.