•  ()
  •  ()
  • Print this Story
  • Email this Story

Nanotechnology Star Fraser Stoddart to Join Northwestern

August 16, 2007 | by Megan Fellman

EVANSTON, Ill. --- J. Fraser Stoddart, a pioneer in the fields of nanoscience and organic chemistry, will join the Northwestern University faculty as Board of Trustees Professor of Chemistry, the University announced today (Aug. 16).

Stoddart, Fred Kavli Chair in Nanosystems Sciences at the University of California at Los Angeles and director of the California NanoSystems Institute, is the inventor of a field of chemistry that enables the construction of molecular switches and machines on the nanoscale level.

“We are extremely pleased to have world-class researcher Fraser Stoddart join our already stellar group of faculty working in nanoscience,” said Northwestern President Henry S. Bienen. “This positions the University unequivocally as the best place in the world for research in this field.”

A native of Edinburgh, Scotland, Stoddart was appointed by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II as a Knight Bachelor in her 2007 New Year's Honours List for his services to chemistry and molecular nanotechnology. (Nanoscience research is performed on a size-scale ranging from 1 nanometer - that is, one-billionth of a meter - to a few hundred nanometers.)

“Northwestern is rapidly becoming a magnet for the most creative minds in the burgeoning field of nanotechnology to come together to tackle big problems in a highly collaborative environment,” said Stoddart. “I am first and foremost a team player and so being given the chance to become part of Northwestern's distinctive culture is a dream come true for me.”

Stoddart, ranked by the Institute for Scientific Information as the second-most cited chemist in the world, will bring a research group of about 25 with him to Northwestern. The first researchers will arrive in September with the full team in place by January. Stoddart's group initially will have offices and laboratories in the Technological Institute but eventually will move into Richard and Barbara Silverman Hall for Molecular Therapeutics and Diagnostics (chemistry of life processes) and Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Hall (nanofabrication and molecular self-assembly).

“Fraser's presence will elevate the entire science endeavor at Northwestern and will help us recruit high-profile scientists in the areas of organic chemistry, the chemistry of life processes, nanoscience and materials chemistry,” said Joseph T. Hupp, Charles E. and Emma H. Morrison Professor of Chemistry in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and chair of the department of chemistry. “These are all areas that reflect Fraser's broad interests and talents. He will play a big role in moving our department and the University forward on many fronts.”

Stoddart will direct the new Center for the Chemistry of Integrated Systems at Northwestern. The center will focus on science and engineering involving complex systems that exhibit emergent behavior. It will bring together experts from many disciplines and offer a unique educational experience to those who will spark innovation and invention in tomorrow's world.

By introducing an additional type of bond (the mechanical bond) into chemical synthesis, Stoddart became one of the few chemists to have opened up a new field of chemistry during the past 25 years. He pioneered the use of molecular recognition and self-assembly to create, by means of template-directed synthesis, mechanically interlocked compounds called catenanes and rotaxanes, which have been employed as molecular switches and as motor-molecules in the fabrication of nanoelectronic devices and NanoElectroMechanical Systems (NEMS).

Stoddart also has designed and constructed nanovalves, which are much smaller than living cells. The tiny valves are capable of crossing cell membranes and are now being adapted for use as highly targeted drug-delivery systems for cancer cells.

Stoddart came to UCLA in 1997 from England's University of Birmingham, where he had been a professor of organic chemistry since 1990 and had headed the university's School of Chemistry since 1993.

Stoddart received his bachelor of science (1964) and Ph.D. (1966) degrees from the University of Edinburgh. In 1967, he moved to Queen's University in Ontario, Canada, where he was a National Research Council postdoctoral fellow and then, in 1970, to England's University of Sheffield, where he was first an Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) research fellow before becoming a faculty lecturer (assistant professor) in chemistry. He was a Science Research Council senior visiting fellow at UCLA in 1978. After spending a three-year “secondment” (1978-81) at the ICI Corporate Laboratory in Runcorn, England, he returned full-time to the University of Sheffield, where he was promoted to a readership (associate professorship). He moved to the University of Birmingham in 1990.

His work has been recognized by many awards, including the Carbohydrate Chemistry Award of The Chemical Society (1978), the International Izatt-Christensen Award in Macrocyclic Chemistry (1993), the American Chemical Society's Cope Scholar Award (1999), the Nagoya Gold Medal in Organic Chemistry (2004), the King Faisal International Prize in Science (2007), the Tetrahedron Prize for Creativity in Organic Chemistry (2007) and the American Chemical Society's Arthur C. Cope Award (2008). In 2005, he received an honorary doctor of science degree from the University of Birmingham, and then, in December 2006, the same honor from the University of Twente in the Netherlands.

Stoddart is a fellow of the Royal Society (1994), the German Academy of Natural Sciences (1999), the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2005) and the Science Division of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (2006). In 2005, he was the recipient of the University of Edinburgh Alumnus of the Year Award. Stoddart, who serves on the international advisory boards of numerous journals, including the Journal of Organic Chemistry, Angewandte Chemie and Chemistry, A European Journal, has published more than 800 scientific papers, given in excess of 700 invited/plenary lectures and has trained more than 300 graduate and postdoctoral students, of whom over 60 subsequently have embarked upon successful independent academic careers.