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June 18, 2009
Richard Zare wins Priestley Medal
ChemPhysChem Board Member honoured for a lifetime of achievement in chemistry
Richard Zare, Marguerite Blake Wilbur Professor in Natural Science at Stanford University and Board Member of ChemPhysChem, is to be awarded the 2010 Priestley Medal for a lifetime of achievements in chemistry. "Being selected for this huge honor is of course gratifying and thrilling", Zare says. "I am deeply mindful, however, that there are many others who are deserving of such recognition." The award, established in 1922 and named after Joseph Priestley (the discoverer of oxygen), is the highest honor conferred by the American Chemical Society (ACS).
"The Priestley Medal honors the recipient for research accomplishments and service to the field of chemistry", says Allen J. Bard, a professor of chemistry at the University of Texas at Austin and former recipient of the prize. "Dick Zare is a wonderful choice for this award", he says. "Not only has he made numerous scientific contributions to an amazing range of problems, but he brings to his research an energy and enthusiasm which motivates his students and co-workers as well as those who read his papers and listen to his lectures."
With this prize, the ACS recognizes an outstanding career spanning over more than 40 years. In this time, Zare has authored and co-authored over 700 papers, generated more than 50 patents, and published several books. He is particularly noted for his work in laser chemistry. He introduced laser-induced fluorescence as a method for studying reaction dynamics and understanding molecular collision processes. The work in his group has led to significant advances in the field of nanoscale chemical analysis, allowing the detection of tiny amounts of chemicals and the measurement of single molecules in room-temperature solutions.
"There are many honorable scientists who work in the field of reaction dynamics, but there is one outstanding guy who is a class of his own. And that's Richard Zare", says Karl-Heinz Gericke, a noted scientist in the field of laser chemistry and professor at the Technical University of Braunschweig. "Thanks to Dick, we have gained a more coherent and clear view of the field of reaction dynamics", he adds. But all these achievements are the result of excellent team work, Zare says. "Nearly everything I am credited with accomplishing has actually happened because of close collaborations with my graduate students, postdocs, and others."
Zare earned his bachelor's degree in chemistry and physics in 1961 and his PhD in chemical physics in 1964 at Harvard University. He has been a chemistry professor at Stanford since 1977 and has received many awards throughout his career. Among them are the famous Wolf Prize in Chemistry (2005), the Welch Award in Chemistry (2000), the National Academy of Sciences Award in Chemical Sciences (1991), and the National Medal of Science (1983). One of the secrets of his success is his fascination with chemistry. "The palpable world is made up of matter; chemistry is about matter and how it can be changed from one form to another. How could I not be fascinated by chemistry?!", he says. Zare has been on the Editorial Board of ChemPhysChem since 2000 and is also a member of the International Advisory Board of Angewandte Chemie. He will receive his well-deserved Priestley Medal in March 2010. Congratulations, Dick!