"An Asymmetric Odyssey Leading Back to Its Port of Origin"
The Danforth Lecture on October 3, 2002
Unlike most academics engaged in basic research, Nobel Laureate K. Barry Sharpless has always been exclusively interested in useful chemistry. Since he regards the oxidation of olefins as the single most versatile, powerful and reliable class of transformations in organic synthesis, Sharpless concentrates on expanding the scope of existing oxidative reactions and discovering new ones.
Sharpless is best known for discovering three "name" reactions, general methods for catalytic asymmetric epoxidation, dihydroxlylation, and aminohydroxylation. His Nobel Prize citation says, "many scientists have identified Sharpless's epoxidation [discovered in 1980 with Tsutomu Katsuki] as the most important discovery in the field of synthesis during the past few decades."
In 2001 Barry Sharpless received not only the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, but Israel's Wolf Prize, the Benjamin Franklin Medal and the John Scott Medal Award. Also in 2001, Sharpless turned 60, an event celebrated with a three-day symposium during the American Chemical Society's annual meeting; all of the symposium's 33 speakers were former members of Sharpless's research group.
Sharpless is W.M. Keck Professor of Chemistry at the Scripps Research Institute.
Photos from Prof. Sharpless' Visit to Grinnell
Chm-390 students presented posters to help other students understand the importance of Prof. Sharpless's work. There was also a dinner reception with faculty, and an informal lunch with students.