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Bristol scientists win top chemistry awards

Press release issued: 5 August 2004

Five chemists from the University of Bristol have been awarded prestigious prizes by the Royal Society of Chemistry. A sixth chemist has won the Royal Society's prestigious Rumford Medal.

Five chemists from the University of Bristol have been awarded prestigious prizes by the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC).

A sixth chemist has been awarded the Royal Society's Rumford Medal for an outstanding discovery in the field of thermal or optical properties.

Dr Nicholas Walker has been awarded the Meldola Medal and Prize for his distinctive and outstanding contributions to the interactions between metal ions and many other molecules through experiments on metal-containing cluster ions.  His work has contributed to a deeper understanding of how metal ions attach to chemical solvents such as water and ammonia.  The Medal and Prize, consisting of a bronze medal and prize of £500, is awarded to a British chemist under the age of 30 who has shown the most promise as indicated by published work.

Dr Guy Lloyd-Jones has been awarded the Corday-Morgan Medal and Prize for his distinguished work on the study of "hydrogen bonding" and "metal-catalysed reaction mechanisms".  Hydrogen bonding is a weak association between, or within, molecules and is of immense importance in structural biology.   Metal-catalysed reaction mechanisms concerns the mode by which tiny quantities of specially tailored metal-containing molecules are able to selectively accelerate chemical processes.  The award, which consists of a silver medal and £500, is made to a British chemist under the age of 38, who, in the judgement of the RSC's Council, has published during the year of the award and in the immediately preceding five years, the most meritorious contributions to experimental chemistry.

Professor Varinder Aggarwal has won the Green Chemistry Award, sponsored by Rohm and Haas, for his distinguished work in developing a novel process for preparing valuable synthetic intermediates.  This novel technique eliminates the use of potentially hazardous and harmful reagents and provides a highly efficient, clean and safe process with broad industrial application.  The award, consisting of a silver medal and £500, is awarded for the design, development or implementation of novel chemical products or processes that have the potential to reduce or eliminate the use and generation of hazardous substances.

Professor Paul Pringle has won the Homogeneous Catalysis Award, sponsored by Johnson Matthey Catalysts, for his significant developments of homogeneous catalysis, notably for carbonylation reactions and the use of novel phosphine ligands to modulate the catalytic activity of transition metal centres.  The award, consisting of a silver medal and £500, is for the development of novel homogeneous catalysts or new homogeneously catalysed reactions.

Professor Richard Evershed has won the Interdisciplinary Award through his recognition as an analytical chemist who has revolutionised aspects of archaeological science and organic geochemistry.

His analytical approaches exploit the specificity of molecular structure and compound-specific stable isotope signatures to trace the history of artifacts or fossils and has resulted in many new insights into the lives of ancient peoples and advanced the understanding of the fate of ancient biomolecules. The award, consisting of an inscribed memento and £500, will be presented at a one-day scientific meeting.  The centrepiece of the meeting will be a lecture given by Professor Evershed.

Professor Richard Dixon FRS has won the Rumford Medal, awarded biennially by the Royal Society in recognition of an outstandingly important recent discovery in the field of thermal or optical properties of matter made by a scientist working in Europe.  Professor Dixon was awarded the medal in recognition of his many contributions to molecular spectroscopy and to the dynamics of molecular photodissociation.

Professor Guy Orpen, Head of the School of Chemistry said: "As well as being a great personal distinction for Nicholas, Guy, Varinder, Paul, Richard and Richard it is also great testimony to the quality of their science and the University's excellence in research."

Dr Nicholas Walker, Dr Guy Lloyd-Jones, Professor Varinder Aggarwal and Professor Paul Pringle received their awards from Professor Sir Harry Kroto, President of the RSC and Nobel Prize winner, at a ceremony at the Royal Academy of Arts, London.

The RSC is the largest organisation in Europe for advancing the chemical sciences. Supported by a network of 45,000 members worldwide and an internationally acclaimed publishing business, our activities span education and training, conferences and science policy, and the promotion of the chemical sciences to the public.