Robert Crabtree elected to U.K.’s national science academy

Yale professor Robert Crabtree is presented with the 2013 Postdoctoral Mentoring Award at the Beinecke Library
Robert Crabtree is presented with the 2013 Postdoctoral Mentoring Award at the Beinecke Library. (Photo credit: Michael Marsland)

Robert Crabtree, the C.P. Whitehead Professor of Chemistry, a faculty member of the Energy Sciences Institute, and member of the executive committee for the Center for Green Chemistry & Green Engineering at Yale, has been elected to the Royal Society, the United Kingdom’s national science academy.

This year, the society recognized 50 leading scientists from or working in the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth, as well as 10 from other countries.

Crabtree’s research is focused on the design and synthesis of molecular catalysts with unusual structures and properties, with an emphasis on alternative energy strategies, such as solar energy and hydrogen storage.

In early work, he reversed homogeneous catalytic alkene hydrogenation to bring about alkane dehydrogenation. The so-called “Crabtree catalyst” has proved useful for certain challenging cases and has therefore seen broad use. This was followed by work on complexation of molecular hydrogen to metals and finding a new type of hydrogen bonding that he called dihydrogen bonding. Recently, in collaboration with Yale chemistry professor and department chair Gary Brudvig, Crabtree developed water oxidation and C-H bond conversion to C-OH with iridium catalysts in connection with the problem of green catalysts and alternative energy production.

I am very glad to receive this honor from the country of my birth,” Crabtree said.

Crabtree has been a member of the Yale faculty since 1977. Before coming to Yale, he was a postdoctoral fellow and then Attaché de Recherché at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in France. He received his bachelor’s degree from New College, University of Oxford, and his Ph.D. from Sussex University.

Crabtree has received numerous honors and awards. He is a member of the National Academy of Science, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, a fellow of the American Chemical Society, and a member of the Connecticut Academy of Sciences. He has won the Corday-Morgan Medal, the Mack Award, the Bailar Medal, the ISI Highly Cited Author Award, the Kosolapoff Award, the Centenary Award, the Goates Award and the Yale Postdoctoral Mentoring Award.

Founded in 1660, the Royal Society has three roles: as a provider of independent scientific advice, as a learned society, and as a funding agency. Its fellowship includes renowned scientists from the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth, plus foreign members from around the world.

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Jim Shelton: james.shelton@yale.edu, 203-361-8332