The Karl Ziegler Lecture 2024

Max-Planck-Institut für Kohlenforschung honours fluorine chemist Véronique Gouverneur from the University of Oxford

May 16, 2024

Since 1980, the Max-Planck-Institut für Kohlenforschung has awarded its highest scientific honour, the Karl Ziegler Lecture, to an internationally recognised researcher in the field of chemistry. The prize is awarded to scientists who have made outstanding contributions to their field of research. During a stay of several days at the Institute. they present and discuss their work with the catalysis researchers from Mülheim.

This year's Karl Ziegler Guest Professorship goes to Professor Véronique Gouverneur. The Belgian is a leading expert in the field of fluorine chemistry and currently holds the prestigious Waynflete Professorship of Chemistry at the University of Oxford. Gouverneur's research focuses on the development of innovative synthetic methods for the production of complex fluorinated molecules used in medicine and diagnostics. More recently, as part of a spin-off company, she has also been working on developing sustainable and safe synthetic methods for the production of fluorides, which are essential basic chemicals that are being used, among other things, in medicine or modern battery technology. In her keynote speech, "Rethinking Fluorine Chemistry with Global Challenges in Mind", Gouverneur presented the Mülheim researchers with their various approaches to the direct production of fluorochemicals, which take into account the global challenges of decarbonisation and resource conservation, while at the same time avoiding the previously hazardous production steps for fluorochemicals.

"We are awarding the Karl Ziegler Guest Professorship to Véronique Gouverneur in recognition of her outstanding contributions to strategies and syntheses of fluorinated molecules for applications in the material and life sciences," said the Managing Director of the Max-Planck-Institut für Kohlenforschung, Prof. Dr Frank Neese. In his opinion, the guest professor had also carried out very useful research in the field of radiochemistry, in particular in the development of 18F-labelled radiopharmaceuticals for positron emission tomography which enabled the production of advanced radiotracers. "It is very valuable for researchers to exchange ideas and discuss approaches with scientists from other leading institutes", says Neese. “Véronique's creative research shows many approaches to our topics and we look forward to the discussions in small and large groups”, he added handing over the certificate.

About the Karl Ziegler Guest Professorship

The Karl Ziegler Lecture commemorates the pioneer of plastics production and long-standing director of the Institute, Prof Dr Karl Ziegler. Ziegler was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1963 together with Giulio Natta. With this outstanding invention, he made a major contribution to the economic independence of the Max-Planck-Institut für Kohlenforschung. After his death in 1978, his family set up a fund to finance the Karl Ziegler Guest Professorship. Since then, more than 33 luminaries of chemistry have been guests in Mülheim, some of whom have gone on to win Nobel Prizes themselves.


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