That Guy That Taught Chem-101

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.

Go Hens!

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!


19 thoughts on “That Guy That Taught Chem-101

  1. You have been “touched by greatness…” I always enjoy these moments….right now one of my High school pals ( not a great friend but in a Quaker school of 200 students, you all leanr to get along) is competing on Iron Chef…so vote for Celina Tio….

    and yes, its awesome that you were taught by a Nobel Prize Winner!

  2. I had a physics lecture or two from a Nobel laureate in college, but never an entire class. And given where I went to school, if I had bothered to take any econ, I’d almost certainly have bumped into a Nobel laureate there, too.

    I have to admit, though, last year’s Nobels made me happier- not because of the subject area, but because there were three mothers in that bunch. And I think that is the best response yet to the people who tell me that you can’t combine a career in science with motherhood! (Oh yeah? Tell that to the Nobel committee….)

  3. As you can see Steven to us who know you we feel you are a winner. Actually it is us who wins daily just knowing you. Now go and create what’s new in the world, it’s only a few atoms away.

    • Thanks Paolo — it’s funny, so many of the things you do are little increments. Only when you stop and look back do you get a sense of how far you’ve traveled.

  4. How wonderful and exciting! That must be thrilling to know someone that has won the Nobel! Greatness by association. I love the picture of the Hen with the diploma.

  5. That’s pretty cool. I get the newsletters from my school’s alumni that always list the various achievements my professors (and the new faculty that weren’t there when I was a lowly engineering undergrad) have earned in the last quarter. It’s pretty awe-inspiring what some of those folks are doing, but winning a Nobel Prize takes the cake :-)

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