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12/09/16

The Ružička Prize 2016 goes to Dr. Bill Morandi for his successful development of new concepts in catalysis that could lead to improved efficiency in medicinal chemistry and materials science

The Ružička Prize 2016 goes to Dr. Bill Morandi for his successful development of new concepts in catalysis that could lead to improved efficiency in medicinal chemistry and materials science

Dr. Bill Morandi from the Max-Planck-Institut für Kohlenforschung receives one of the most prestigious Swiss Awards in chemistry. The ETH Zurich awarded him the Ružička Prize 2016 for his research in homogeneous catalysis. The Prize is endowed with 10000 Swiss francs and named after Nobel Prize winner and former ETH professor, Leopold Ružička.

The jury was convinced by Morandi’s concept of “shuttle catalysis”. The leader of the group of Homogeneous Catalysis and Reaction Design found a new and safe approach to hydrocyanation that proceeds through the exchange of functional groups between two molecules without relying on highly toxic hydrogen cyanide as a reagent. This novel approach to catalysis could potentially be extended to the gas–free transfer of other highly reactive and toxic reagents, such as carbon monoxide and hydrochloric acid. The committee also appreciated his efforts to replace expensive and rare metals, such as Pd or Rh, with cheaper, readily available alternatives, such as iron, nickel or copper. In his speech, Karl-Heinz Altmann, Dean of the chemistry and applied biosciences department, said that in his young career Morandi had already achieved several important breakthroughs that show his creativity and talent.

Bill Morandi is an ETH Zurich alumnus who received the ETH Medal for his outstanding dissertation in 2013. His research work focuses on sustainability and the development of novel concepts in catalysis. In 2015 he was awarded the Thieme Journal Award. This year the magazine Chemical & Engineering News of the ACS elected him a “Talented Twelve” and he also received the Bayer Early Excellence in Science Award.

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Photo: by ETH Zurich. From left to right: Prof. Ulrich Weidmann, ETH Zurich; Dr. Bill Morandi, Max-Planck-Institut für Kohlenforschung - Mülheim an der Ruhr; Prof. Karl-Heinz Altmann, ETH Zurich; Prof. Erick Carreira, ETH Zurich