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Alumnus Robert Grubbs Wins Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Robert H. Grubbs

Columbia alumnus Robert H. Grubbs joined chemists Yves Chauvin and Richard R. Schrock in receiving the 2005 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Grubbs currently is the Victor and Elizabeth Atkins Professor of Chemistry at Caltech.

Grubbs began his studies at Columbia's chemistry department in 1963 and received his Ph.D. in 1968. During his time at Columbia, Grubbs worked in an area of organometallic chemistry. His interests in this field developed into the work that was honored with the Nobel Prize.

"The work Bob Grubbs did at Caltech built heavily on some pioneering work by Professor Thomas Katz, of the Columbia chemistry department," says Ronald Breslow, University Professor and a mentor to Grubbs. "While Katz was not included in the trio of Novel Laureates, most chemists recognize his work as absolutely fundamental to the field that was recognized by the Nobel Prize this year. The work of Grubbs is also universally hailed for producing great practical and theoretical advances in what has emerged as a powerful new way to assemble useful chemical compounds." 

A native of Kentucky, Grubbs earned his bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Florida. He served as a National Institute of Health Postdoctoral Fellow at Stanford University in 1968-69. Grubbs taught at Michigan State University in 1969 and joined Caltech in 1978.

Grubbs is the father of three children: Barney, 33, a chemistry professor at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire; Brendan, 31, a doctor, and Katy, 28, who is pursuing a Ph.D. in psychology at the University of Hawaii.

Published: Oct 11, 2005
Last modified: Oct 11, 2005

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