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Gibbs Award Ceremony and Lecture
The 103rd Presentation of the Willard Gibbs Medal
Friday, May 16, 2014

Gibbs Medal Awardee:
Prof. John E. Bercaw

Prof. John Bercaw

Centennial Professor of Chemistry
Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering
California Institute of Technology
Pasadena, CA

“Hydrocarbon Upgrading to Fuels and Chemicals:
Progress Toward Homogeneous Catalysts”


Meridian Banquets
1701 Algonquin Road
Rolling Meadows, IL 60008


Members & their guests:


Map & Directions

Free parking

Date: Friday, May 16   Meeting flier    

Dinner reservations are required and should be received by noon on Monday, May 12. Please register with the form below or call the Section office (847-391-9091) to make your reservations. PLEASE HONOR YOUR RESERVATIONS.  The Section must pay for all food orders.  No-shows will be billed. 

Seating will be available after the dinner for people not attending the dinner but interested in hearing the speaker.

The Citation

For path-breaking advances in inorganic and organometallic chemistry related to the elucidation of olefin polymerization and hydrocarbon oxidation mechanisms and development of early metal polymerization catalysts.

The History of the Willard Gibbs Award


Current technologies for conversion of natural gas and petroleum to fuels and commodity chemicals are energy intensive and polluting.  New catalytic processes that are more efficient and “greener” are required to reduce CO2 emissions and to more effectively utilize our fossil fuel reserves.  Discussed will be fundamental research efforts directed towards developing (1) a selective, homogeneous catalyst for direct, partial oxidation of light alkanes, (2) a homogeneous catalyst system for converting syngas (a mixture of CO and H2), obtained by steam reforming of light alkanes, to Cn>1 products, and (3) a catalytic tandem olefin dimerization/hydrogen transfer scheme for upgrading light alkane/alkene mixtures to transportation fuels.

musicmusicThe reception will feature live violin and piano music performed by Boris and Alla Gorelik,
world-class classically trained duet.

John Bercaw received his B. S. degree from North Carolina State University in 1967, his Ph. D. from the University of Michigan in 1971, then undertook postdoctoral research at the University of Chicago.  He joined the faculty at the California Institute of Technology as an Arthur Amos Noyes Research Fellow in 1972, and in 1974 he joined the professorial ranks, becoming Professor of Chemistry in 1979.  From 1985 to 1990 he was the Shell Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, and in 1993 he was named Centennial Professor of Chemistry.  Bercaw has been a Seaborg Scholar at Los Alamos National Laboratory (2004), the Robert Burns Woodward Visiting Professor at Harvard University (1999), The George F. Baker Lecturer at Cornell University (1993), Visiting Miller Professor at the University of California, Berkeley (1990), and a Royal Society of Chemistry Guest Research Fellow at Oxford University (1989-1990).  From 2009-2012 he was also KFUPM Visiting Chair Professor at King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals.  He has served on numerous panels for the Department of Energy and the National Research Council, and beginning in 1999 has been a member of the Science and Technology Committees for national weapons laboratories: Los Alamos National Security and Lawrence Livermore National Security.

Bercaw is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (1986), a member of the National Academy of Sciences (1990), a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1991), and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Science from the University of Chicago in 2001.  He has received the American Chemical Society awards in Pure Chemistry (1980), for Organometallic Chemistry (1990), for Distinguished Service in the Advancement of Inorganic Chemistry (1997), the George A. Olah Award for Hydrocarbon or Petroleum Chemistry (1999), and an Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award (2000).  He held the Sir Edward Frankland Prize Lectureship of the Royal Society of Chemistry in 1992, received the Basolo Medal (Northwestern, 2005), the Bailar Medal (University of Illinois, 2003), and the Tolman Medal (Southern California Section of the ACS, 2013).

His research interests are in synthetic, structural and mechanistic organotransition metal chemistry.  Investigations include catalysts for polymerization of olefins, investigations of hydrocarbon hydroxylation with transition metal complexes, and the development of catalysts for syngas and light alkane conversions to chemicals and fuels.  He has published almost 300 peer-reviewed scientific articles.

We are pleased to acknowledge the sponsorship of ExxonMobil for help making this program special.

Map and Directions

Parking:  Free



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Last updated 5/1/14
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