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Nobel laureate Ben Feringa to present spring 2024 Allcock Alumni Group Lecture

1 April 2024
Ben Feringa

Ben L. Feringa, the Jacobus van ‘t Hoff Distinguished Professor of Chemistry at the University of Groningen and recipient of the 2016 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, will present the Allcock Alumni Group Lectureship in Polymers and Materials Chemistry at 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 10, 2024, in 101 Thomas Building on the Penn State University Park campus. The lecture, titled “The Art of Building Small from Molecular Switches to Motors,” is free and open to the public. 

Feringa’s lecture will focus on the dynamics of functional molecular systems as well as triggering and assembly processes. His group designs switches and motors in which molecular motion is combined to specific functions. Incorporating motors into supramolecular systems and polymers offers fascinating opportunities to control materials function by light. Responsive behavior will be illustrated in self-assembly and responsive materials emphasizing cooperative action, amplification along multiple length scales, and 2D and 3D organized systems. The design, synthesis, and functioning of rotary molecular motors and machines will also be presented with a prospect toward future dynamic molecular systems and materials. 

The Feringa group mainly works to utilize synthetic chemistry's full potential to create new structures, functions and chemical systems. Feringa’s research interests include stereochemistry, homogeneous catalysis, organic synthesis, asymmetric catalysis, molecular switches and motors, self-assembly, molecular nanosystems, and photopharmacology. 

After Feringa obtained his doctoral degree at the University of Groningen in 1978, he worked as a research scientist at Shell in both the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. He returned to the University of Groningen and was appointed lecturer in 1984, full professor in 1988, and the Jacobus H. van 't Hoff Distinguished Professor of Molecular Sciences in 2004. He was elected a foreign honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, member and former vice-president of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences, member of the German Academy Leopoldina, member of the Chinese National Academy of Sciences, foreign member of the Royal Society (London), foreign member of the U.S. National Academy, and member of the European Research Council. In 2008, he was appointed academy professor and was knighted by Her Majesty the Queen of the Netherlands.  

Feringa’s research has been internationally recognized with numerous awards, including the Koerber European Science Prize in 2003, Spinoza Prize in 2004, Prelog Gold Medal in 2005, American Chemical Society’s James Flack Norrish Award in Physical Organic Chemistry in 2007, Paracelsus Prize of the Swiss Chemical Society in 2008, Chirality Medal in 2009, Royal Society of Chemistry’s Organic Stereochemistry Award in 2011, Humboldt Research Award in 2012, Nagoya Gold Medal of Organic Chemistry in 2013, Marie Sklodowska-Curie Medal in 2013, American Chemical Society’s Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award in 2015, Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2016, Tetrahedron Prize in 2017, and European Chemistry Gold Medal in 2018.  


About the lectureship

The Allcock Alumni Group Lectureship in Polymers and Materials Chemistry was established by former students of Harry Allcock, Atherton Professor of Chemistry, to enrich the Penn State Eberly College of Science by providing funds to support lectures by outstanding professionals in the field of polymers and materials chemistry. 


Media Contacts
Kathryn Harlow
Chemistry Communications Coordinator