Press release

2021 Nobel Prize in Chemistry goes to the Humboldtian Benjamin List

While a postdoc, List conducted research in the USA as a Feodor Lynen Research Fellow. He has now been selected to receive this year’s Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the development of asymmetric organocatalysis.

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Benjamin List, Nobelpreisträger 2021 in Chemie

The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation congratulates Benjamin List on being awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, which he will receive jointly with David W.C. MacMillan. The two researchers were chosen to receive the award for their development of asymmetric organocatalysis. This tool for molecular construction is being used in a number of areas, including research on new pharmaceuticals, and has also contributed to making chemistry greener, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences stated. Counting Dr List, 57 researchers from the worldwide network of individuals who have been sponsored by the Humboldt Foundation have now received a Nobel Prize.

“Our heartfelt congratulations to Benjamin List and David MacMillan for this highly deserved honour. The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation sponsored Benjamin List as one of its research fellows back in the late 1990s, shortly before he developed the form of catalysis for which he is now being recognised with the Nobel Prize in Chemistry”, said the President of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, Hans-Christian Pape. “Back then he worked as a fellow with other members of the Humboldt Network at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California. Since then, he himself has repeatedly hosted Humboldt Fellows. We are proud of him as an important member of our worldwide family!”, Pape emphasised.

Born in Germany in 1968, the chemist Benjamin List is a director at the Max-Planck-Institut für Kohlenforschung in Mülheim an der Ruhr. He conducted research as a postdoc in the USA from 1997-1998 with a Feodor Lynen Research Fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. In the years since then, he has supervised numerous international Humboldt Research Fellows at his institute in his capacity as a Humboldt host.

He himself has repeatedly hosted Humboldt Fellows. We are proud of him as an important member of our worldwide family!
Hans-Christian Pape, President of the Humboldt Foundation

(Press release 25/2021)


Every year, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation enables more than 2,000 researchers from all over the world to spend time conducting research in Germany. The Foundation maintains an interdisciplinary network of well over 30,000 Humboldtians in more than 140 countries around the world – including 59 Nobel Prize winners.

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