05 October 2005, No. 21/2005

Chemistry Nobel Prize for two Humboldtians

Today, the Nobel Prize for Chemistry was awarded to the former Humboldt Research Fellow, Robert H. Grubbs, and the Humboldt Research Award Winner, Richard R. Schrock, as well as to their colleague, Yves Chauvin. Just yesterday, three Humboldt Research Award Winners were granted the Nobel Prize for Physics. This means there is now a total of 40 Nobel Laureates belonging to the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation's worldwide network of Research Fellows and Research Award Winners.

The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation congratulates Professor Robert H. Grubbs and Professor Richard R. Schrock on winning the Nobel Prize for Chemistry which they share in equal parts with the French researcher Professor Yves Chauvin for the development of the metathesis method in organic synthesis.

Robert Grubbs, born in 1942, worked as a Humboldt Research Fellow in Germany in 1975. The then 33-year old spent six months researching at the Max Planck Institute (MPI) for Coal Research in Mülheim/Ruhr and had already established himself as one of the leading American scientists in organometallic chemistry. Today, he does his research at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena, California, USA.

Richard Schrock, born in 1945, received the Humboldt Research Award in 1975 and subsequently used the funding to continue his research in Germany. Up to 2004, this led to repeated research stays as a guest of the Institute for Inorganic Chemistry at Munich Technical University and, like his colleague Grubbs, at the MPI for Coal Research in Mülheim/Ruhr. In the Nineties, he gave his name to research into transition metals, "Schrock Chemistry". Schrock works at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.

"We are delighted that in the last two days no less than five Humboldtians have been awarded Nobel Prizes" the Secretary General of the Humboldt Foundation, Dr. Georg Schütte, comments. Robert Grubbs' and Richard Schrock's association with the Humboldt Foundation was exemplary for the Foundation's funding philosophy. "When Robert Grubbs became a Humboldt Fellow he came to Germany as a promising research talent, long before he established himself and eventually became a candidate for a Nobel Prize. Richard Schrock received the Humboldt Research Award and was successfully encouraged to work together closely with German colleagues once he had already become renowned worldwide. That promoting Humboldtians, be they young fellows or highly-recognised award winners, is always an investment in the future is proven by the Nobel Prizes for Robert Grubbs and Richard Schrock, representing many Humboltians worldwide," says Schütte.

The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation 

The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation annually enables more than 1800 researchers from all over the world to spend time researching in Germany. The Foundation maintains a network of some 23,000 Humboldtians from all disciplines in 130 countries worldwide - including 40 Nobel Prize winners.


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