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Alex Hopkins Lecture: the joy of discovery

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Professor Ben Feringa delivers the 2020 Alex Hopkins Lecture

Exploring across the current frontiers of chemical sciences there is vast uncharted territory to experience the joy of discovery. Far beyond Nature’s design, the creative power of synthetic chemistry provides unlimited opportunities to realize our own molecular world as we experience every day with products ranging from drugs to displays that sustain modern society. In their practice of the art of building small, chemists have shown amazing success in the past decades. Moving from molecules to dynamic molecular systems the fundamental challenge is how to control and exploit motion at the nanoscale.

In this presentation the focus is on my journey in the world of molecular switches and motors, the process of discovery and my personal experiences through my scientific career. In particular I will address how fundamental questions and molecular beauty have guided me on this journey.

Ben L. Feringa obtained his PhD degree at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands under the guidance of Professor Hans Wynberg. After working as a research scientist at Shell in the Netherlands and at the Shell Biosciences Centre in the UK, he was appointed lecturer and in 1988 full professor at the University of Groningen and named the Jacobus H. van’t Hoff Distinguished Professor of Molecular Sciences in 2004. He was elected Foreign Honory member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and is member and vice-president of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences. In 2008 he was appointed Academy Professor and was knighted by Her Majesty the Queen of the Netherlands.

Feringa’s research has been recognized with a number of awards including the Koerber European Science Award (2003), the Spinoza Award (2004), the Prelog gold medal (2005), the Norrish Award of the ACS (2007), the Paracelsus medal (2008), the Chirality medal (2009),the RSC Organic Stereochemistry Award (2011), Humboldt Award (2012), the Grand Prix Scientifique Cino del Duca (French Academy 2012), the Marie Curie medal (2013) and the Nagoya Gold Medal (2013). The research interest includes stereochemistry, organic synthesis, asymmetric catalysis, optopharma, molecular switches and motors, self-assembly and molecular nanosystems.

This talk is part of the Chemistry Departmental-wide lectures series.

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