• Robert H. Grubbs
    Credit: Caltech

Caltech Chemist Robert Grubbs Elected to Royal Society

Robert H. Grubbs, the Victor and Elizabeth Atkins Professor of Chemistry at Caltech, has been named a foreign member of Great Britain's Royal Society, the oldest scientific academy in continuous existence, founded in 1660.  Grubbs, who won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2005, was one of 10 foreign members and 50 other fellows elected to the society in 2017.

Grubbs invents methods for tailor-making chemicals, such as pharmaceuticals, polymers, and other products. In particular, he is known for his olefin metathesis reactions, which allow chemists to swap atoms in and out of molecules by rearranging carbon-carbon double bonds. The method promotes "green," environmentally friendly chemistry by enabling researchers to design and manufacture molecules with less hazardous wastes.

Grubbs received his PhD in chemistry in 1968 from Columbia University. He is the recipient of many other awards, including nine American Chemical Society awards. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1989 and the National Academy of Engineering in 2015.

Alumnus Lawrence Paulson (BS '77) was also elected to the Royal Society in 2017. The research of Paulson, professor of computational logic at the University of Cambridge, is based on automated theorem proving, in which a mathematical formula is given to a piece of computer software that then produces the proof for the formula. He introduced a theorem-proving environment called Isabelle in 1986.

The Royal Society seeks to "recognize, promote, and support excellence in science and to encourage the development and use of science for the benefit of humanity." A complete list of the society fellows is online here.

Written by Whitney Clavin