AIC Gold Medal

Jacqueline Barton (c) Bob Paz

Jacqueline Barton. © Bob Paz.

2015 Medalist: Jacqueline Barton

Jacqueline Barton, the Arthur and Marian Hanisch Memorial Professor of Chemistry and chair of the Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at the California Institute of Technology, received the 2015 AIC Gold Medal at Heritage Day on May 14, 2015.

Barton's academic career began with an assistant professorship at Hunter College, City University of New York. She then became an associate professor of chemistry and biological sciences at Columbia University and in 1986 a professor. In fall 1989 she joined the faculty at Caltech, and in 2009 she began her term as chair of the division.

Barton has pioneered the application of transition metal complexes to probe recognition and reactions of double-helical DNA. She has designed chiral metal complexes that recognize nucleic acid sites with specificities rivaling DNA-binding proteins. These synthetic transition metal complexes have been useful in elucidating fundamental chemical principles that govern the recognition of nucleic acids, in developing luminescent and photochemical reagents as new diagnostic tools, and in laying a foundation for the design of novel chemotherapeutics. Barton has also carried out seminal studies to elucidate electron-transfer chemistry mediated by the DNA double helix. Barton has trained more than 100 graduate students and postdoctoral students, about half of whom are in academic positions.

Barton has received numerous awards, including the Alan T. Waterman Award of the National Science Foundation, the American Chemical Society (ACS) Award in Pure Chemistry, the ACS Eli Lilly Award in Biological Chemistry, the ACS Garvan Medal, and the ACS Breslow Award in Biomimetic Chemistry. She has also received the ACS Baekeland Medal, the Fresenius Award, the ACS Tolman Medal, the Mayor of New York’s Award in Science and Technology, the Havinga Medal, the Paul Karrer Medal, the ACS Nichols Medal, the Weizmann Women and Science Award, the ACS Gibbs Medal, the ACS Cotton Medal, and the ACS Pauling Medal. She is a recipient of a prestigious MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, and she has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, the National Academy of Sciences, and the Institute of Medicine. In October 2011 Barton received the 2010 National Medal of Science from President Barack Obama. She will receive the ACS Priestley Medal in 2015.

Barton was awarded the AB summa cum laude at Barnard College in 1974 and a PhD in inorganic chemistry at Columbia University in 1978. Her postdoctoral fellowship was at Bell Laboratories and Yale University.

About the AIC Gold Medal

First awarded by the American Institute of Chemists (AIC) in 1926, and jointly awarded with CHF since 2003, the Gold Medal is the AIC’s highest award. It recognizes service to the science of chemistry and to the profession of chemist or chemical engineer in the United States. Previous winners include Nobel laureates as well as other renowned researchers and engineers representing many facets of the world of chemistry. Medalists include Alfred Bader, Arnold O. Beckman, Paul Berg, Elizabeth Blackburn, Herbert C. Brown, F. Albert Cotton, Carl Djerassi, Walter Gilbert, Harry B. Gray, Ralph F. Hirschmann, Roald Hoffmann, Robert L. McNeil, Jr., Glenn T. Seaborg, Oliver Smithies, Max Tishler, and George M. Whitesides.

About the American Institute of Chemists (AIC)

The AIC is a professional organization dedicated to fostering the advancement of the chemical profession in the United States.

Past Medalists

Learn more about the past winners of the AIC Gold Medal.

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