Othmer Gold Medal
2013 Medalist: Harry Gray
Harry Gray, the Arnold O. Beckman Professor of Chemistry and the founding director of the Beckman Institute at the California Institute of Technology, received the 2013 Othmer Gold Medal at Heritage Day, April 4, 2013.
After completing graduate work at Northwestern University and postdoctoral research at the University of Copenhagen, Gray joined the chemistry faculty at Columbia University, where in the early 1960s he developed ligand field theory to interpret the electronic structures and reactions of metal complexes. After moving to Caltech in 1966 he began work in biological inorganic chemistry and photochemistry that led to the development of molecular systems for the storage of solar energy, and in 1982 he demonstrated that electrons can tunnel rapidly over long molecular distances through metalloproteins. In the 1990s he and J. R. Winkler developed laser flash-quench methods that opened the way for experimental investigations that have led to a deeper understanding of the mechanisms of electron flow through proteins that function in respiration and photosynthesis.
Gray has published over 800 research papers and 18 books. He has received the National Medal of Science from President Ronald Reagan (1986); the Pauling Medal (1986); the American Institute of Chemists Gold Medal (1990); the Linderstrøm-Lang Prize (1992); the Gibbs Medal (1992); the Harvey Prize (2000); the National Academy of Sciences Award in Chemical Sciences (2003); the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Chemistry (2004); the Wolf Prize in Chemistry (2004); the City of Florence Prize in Molecular Sciences (2006); the Welch Award in Chemistry (2009); the Japan Coordination Chemistry Award (2010); 6 national awards from the American Chemical Society, including the Priestley Medal (1991); and 17 honorary doctorates, including ones from Rochester, Northwestern, Pennsylvania, Chicago, Columbia, Toulouse, Florence, Copenhagen, and Edinburgh universities. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society, and a foreign member of the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, the Royal Society of Great Britain, and the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei. He has been a member of the board of directors of the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation since 1994.
About the Othmer Gold Medal
The Chemical Heritage Foundation (CHF) established the Othmer Gold Medal in 1997 to honor outstanding individuals who have made multifaceted contributions to our chemical and scientific heritage through outstanding activity in such areas as innovation, entrepreneurship, research, education, public understanding, legislation, or philanthropy.
The medal is presented annually and cosponsored by CHF and four affiliated organizations: the American Chemical Society (ACS), the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), The Chemists’ Club, and the Société de Chimie Industrielle (American Section). The medal commemorates Donald Othmer (1904–1995), noted researcher, consultant, editor, engineer, inventor, philanthropist, professor, and coeditor of the Kirk-Othmer Encyclopedia of Chemical Technology.
CHF gratefully acknowledges John Wiley & Sons, Inc., for donating a set of the Kirk-Othmer Encyclopedia of Chemical Technology each year to the institution chosen by the Othmer Gold Medal recipient.
About the Sponsors
The American Chemical Society (ACS) is the world’s largest scientific organization. The society was established in 1876 and chartered by the U.S. Congress in 1937 to encourage in the broadest and most liberal manner the advancement of chemistry in all its branches
The American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) is a professional, technical, and educational association. The institute was founded in 1908 and is dedicated to promoting excellence in the development and practice of chemical engineering in an ever-expanding array of disciplines
The Chemists’ Club, established in 1898, is one of the oldest and most respected chemical organizations in the country. Members are engaged in management, marketing, processing, and research and development.
The Société de Chimie Industrielle was founded in 1918 as the American Section of a Paris-based international organization. Today it operates as an independent New York–based society with a mission to work with other chemical-industry organizations and promote understanding of the chemical and allied industries. Activities include a monthly CEO forum, a scholarship program, and the International Palladium Medal awarded to an individual who has made outstanding contributions to the industry.
The Chemical Heritage Foundation (CHF) fosters an understanding of chemistry’s impact on society. An independent nonprofit organization, we strive to
- Inspire a passion for chemistry;
- Highlight chemistry’s role in meeting current social challenges; and
- Preserve the story of chemistry and its technologies and industries across centuries.
CHF maintains major collections of instruments, fine art, photographs, papers, and books. We host conferences and lectures, support research, offer fellowships, and produce educational materials. Our museum and public programs explore subjects ranging from alchemy to nanotechnology.