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Northwestern Chemist Wins Prestigious International Award

October 18, 2005 | by Megan Fellman

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Tobin J. Marks, the Vladimir N. Ipatieff Professor of Catalytic Chemistry and Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Northwestern University, has been elected by its membership to the Leopoldina, the German Academy of Natural Scientists. He is the first professor from Northwestern elected to the Leopoldina.

Founded in 1652, the Leopoldina is the world’s oldest academy of natural sciences. Disciplines represented include the natural sciences, medicine, engineering, the social sciences and the history of science and medicine. Members come from all over the globe, and membership is restricted to no more than 1,000 scientists.

Marks’ research focuses on the design, synthesis and in-depth characterization of new materials having important chemical, physical and/or biological properties. Specifically, he studies and designs single molecules in order to make better catalysts for new kinds of plastics, while in his molecular optoelectronics work Marks designs arrays of “smart” molecules that will self-assemble into, or spontaneously form, structures that can conduct electricity, switch light on and off, or emit and detect light. These structures could lead to the world’s most versatile and stable light-emitting diodes (LEDs) as well as to numerous types of organic transistors.

He has been a leader in the development and understanding of single-site olefin polymerization catalysis (now a multi-billion dollar industry), with seminal research in the areas of organo-f-element homogeneous catalysis, metal-ligand bonding energetics, supported organometallic catalysis and metallocene polymerization catalysis.

During his career, Marks has received numerous awards, including some of the most prestigious national and international awards in the fields of inorganic, catalytic, materials and organometallic chemistry. Recent honors include the 2005 John C. Bailar Medal, the American Institute of Chemists Gold Medal, the Burwell Award of the North American Catalysis Society, the Sir Edward Frankland Prize Lectureship of the British Royal Society of Chemistry and the Karl Ziegler Prize of the German Chemical Society.

Marks, who has 800 peer-reviewed publications and holds 82 U.S. patents, also is recipient of three American Chemical Society national awards and the American Chemical Society Chicago Section’s 2001 Josiah Willard Gibbs Medal, regarded by many as the highest award given to chemists next to the Nobel Prize. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1993.

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