This morning, I received a chiding text from a friend “They passed you over for the Nobel AGAIN?!?! WTF?!?!”
Yep, every year, that’s a good joke. But when I returned from our very cold and wet dog walk this morning (I think Penny was also thinking, “WTF?!?!”), I logged on to see who had won, because I’d only caught the tail end of the announcement on the radio.
And it’s a pretty weird feeling to look at the pics of the recipients and say, “Hey, I know that guy!” The 2010 Chemistry Prize was shared between three chemists that pioneered methods that catalyze carbon-carbon bond formation – one of them, Richard Heck, was a professor in the chemistry department at the University of Delaware when I earned my BS-Chem back in the day.
Now, carbon-carbon bond formation is a Big Deal in synthetic chemistry, because all organic and biological molecules use them – sometimes a lot of them. Talking to my chemistry colleague this morning, he was excited because it was a “real” chemistry prize, not one of those “biology” prizes that recently have begun to dominate the “chemistry” prize. He uses the reactions developed by these pioneers every day. Their work has made our work possible.
The Beloved asked if I’d ever had him for class, and I hadn’t. To me, he was just that seemingly-nice, quiet prof that enjoyed teaching sections of Chem-101, which is a great example of how quietly someone can go around producing world-class research. He’s the first Blue Hen chemistry faculty member to win the Nobel and I’m sure they’re popping a lot of champagne corks today in Drake and Brown Labs.
A great day for all Hen chemists!