Friday, February 18, 2011
CMU professor may be on road to Nobel
A Carnegie Mellon University professor has been awarded the 2011 Wolf Prize in Chemistry, an international honor many regard as a precursor to the Nobel Prize.
Krzysztof Matyjaszewski, 60, of Shadyside will share the $100,000 prize with chemists Stuart Alan Rice of the University of Chicago and Ching Tang of the University of Rochester. The Tel Aviv-based Wolf Foundation singled out the men for "deep creative contributions to the chemical sciences."
"I feel very flattered," Matyjaszewski said. "It was very unexpected."
He said the award is a testament to the work of dozens of fellow researchers in his 26 years at CMU.
"Chemistry is really a magnificent area because you can do new things, create new things," Matyjaszewski said.
The prize committee commended Matyjaszewski for his research in polymer synthesis.
Polymers are large molecules, ranging from synthetic plastic to silicon.
Matyjaszewski developed a process that allows scientists to create new polymers in an environmentally friendly way. It has been used in the creation of materials in everything from paints to adhesives, he said.
James Spanswick, associate director of the Center for Macromolecular Engineering at CMU, has worked with Matyjaszewski for 16 years. Spanswick said the Wolf Prize caps the notice Matyjaszewski has received in professional circles.
"Everybody else is looking at his work and building on his work to do new work and expand on ways to build new materials," Spanswick said.
According to the Wolf Foundation, about one of every three scientists it honored in chemistry, physics and medicine in the past 33 years went on to win a Nobel.
The late CMU professor John Pople received the Wolf Prize in Chemistry in 1992 for his contributions to theoretical chemistry. He received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1998.
Article courtesy of Pittsburgh Tribune-Review