June 11, 2007

A chemist who holds joint appointments with the US Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California at Berkeley has been awarded the 2008 Priestley Medal, the highest honor of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

Gabor Somorjai is the sixth Berkeley Lab scientist to win the award, which is named for Joseph Priestley, who reported the discovery of oxygen in 1774.
Somorjai, 72, will be presented with the award at the spring 2008 ACS national meeting for “extraordinarily creative and original contributions to surface science and catalysis.” He has authored more than 1,000 scientific papers and three textbooks on surface chemistry and heterogeneous catalysis, and has mentored more than 300 PhD students and postdoctoral fellows.

Most recently, Somorjai has been at the forefront of nanoscience, studying catalytic reactions on the surfaces of nanoparticles to create prototypes for future high-tech catalysts.

Somorjai has won just about every honor a scientist can receive. In 2002, he received the National Medal of Science, the nation’s highest award for lifetime achievement in fields of scientific research. Earlier this year, he won the Irving Langmuir Prize in Chemical Physics from the American Physical Society.