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Three professors from the School awarded by the Royal Society of Chemistry

Left to right: Professors Tom Simpson, Jonathan Clayden and Stephen Mann University of Bristol

8 May 2018

Three professors from the School of Chemistry have won prestigious awards from the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Professor Jonathan Clayden is the Royal Society of Chemistry Tilden Prize winner for 2018.

Professor Clayden studies how to control molecular shape, and how to make shape-switchable molecules that imitate the much more complex molecular structures found in nature. Some of these molecules both offer possibilities of new treatments for diseases, while others help us to learn how nature communicates information at a molecular level.

He said: “I was delighted to receive the Tilden award, which recognises the success of synthetic chemistry in building, simply and efficiently, carefully designed molecular devices to complement those found in nature. The award of course also recognises the creativity and hard work of my research group in these recent years.”

The Tilden Prize is awarded for work in the field of molecular conformation, and the development of new reactivity using ureas and their congeners. Professor Clayden receives £5,000 and a medal.

Professor Stephen Mann is the Royal Society of Chemistry Nyholm Prize for Inorganic Chemistry winner for 2018.

Professor Mann carries out research into biomimetic materials chemistry – materials that mimic the properties of materials in nature, for a variety of practical applications.

He said: “I am delighted to receive this prestigious award.”

The Nyholm Prize for Inorganic Chemistry is awarded for significant advances in the use of bio-inspired strategies for the synthetic construction of inorganic nanostructured networks and protocell models. Professor Mann receives £5,000 and a medal.

Professor Tom Simpson is the Royal Society of Chemistry Robert Robinson Award winner for 2018.

Professor Simpson’s work focuses on studying the biochemical pathways by which nature makes bioactive compounds in microorganisms such as fungi and bacteria.

Once they understand the details of these pathways on a molecular level, his research group use molecular genetics to manipulate these pathways to make new or improved pharmaceuticals, antibiotics and agrochemicals.

He said: “I am particularly delighted to receive this very special award which recognises research carried out in the later part of your career. Also as I have had many indirect associations with Robert Robinson – post-doc in the Robert Robinson Laboratories in Liverpool, post-doc with Arthur Birch who carried out his D.Phil. (albeit very unsatisfactory as far as Birch himself was concerned!) with Robinson in Oxford, and following Wilson Baker (Robinson’s right hand man in the war-time penicillin research in Oxford) to the Chair of Organic Chemistry in Bristol. Also I believe that my research, if more modest, reflect the broad chemical, mechanistic and biosynthetic interests that Robinson pioneered.”

The Robert Robinson Award is for contributions to organic chemistry from a researcher over the age of 55. It commemorates British organic chemist Sir Robert Robinson, who received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1947 for his research on plant dyestuffs and alkaloids.

The Robert Robinson Award is awarded for pioneering interdisciplinary work on natural products chemistry, biosynthesis and chemical biology. Professor Simpson receives £2,000 and a medal.

Dr Robert Parker, Chief Executive of the Royal Society of Chemistry said: “The chemical sciences are vital for the wellbeing of our world and chemical scientists help to change people’s lives for the better. That’s why we’re so proud to celebrate the innovation and expertise of our community through our Prizes and Awards.

“This year’s inspiring and influential winners come from a range of specialisms, backgrounds, countries and communities. Each has done their bit to advance excellence in the chemical sciences – to improve the lives of people around the world now and in the future.”

Winners are recognised for the originality and impact of their research, or for their contributions to the chemical sciences industry or chemistry education. The Awards also acknowledge the importance of teamwork across the chemical sciences, and the abilities of individuals to develop successful collaborations.

An illustrious list of 50 previous winners of the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Awards have gone on to win Nobel Prizes for their pioneering work, including 2016 Nobel laureates Jean-Pierre Sauvage, Fraser Stoddart and Ben Feringa.

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