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Fraser Stoddart (b 1942) received his BSc (1964) and PhD (1966) Degrees from Edinburgh University. In 1967, he went to Queen’s University (Canada) as a National Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow, and then, in 1970, to Sheffield University as an Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) Research Fellow, before joining the Academic Staff as a Lecturer in Chemistry. He was a Science Research Council Senior Visiting Fellow at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in 1978. After spending a sabbatical (1978-81) at the ICI Corporate Laboratory in Runcorn, he returned to Sheffield where he was promoted to a Readership in 1982. He was awarded a DSc Degree by Edinburgh in 1980 for his research into “Stereochemistry Beyond the Molecule.” In 1990, he took up the Chair of Organic Chemistry at Birmingham University and was Head of the School of Chemistry there (1993-97) before moving to UCLA as the Saul Winstein Professor of Chemistry in 1997. In July 2002, he became Acting Co-Director of the California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI). On May 1, 2003, he was appointed as Director of the CNSI and assumed the Fred Kavli Chair of NanoSystems Sciences. He stood down from the CNSI Directorship on July 31, 2007 and relinquished the Kavli Chair on December 31, 2007 in order to join the faculty at Northwestern University as a Board of Trustees Professor of Chemistry on January 1, 2008. On March 1, 2008, he was appointed an Emeritus Professor of Chemistry at UCLA.
Stoddart is one of the few chemists of the past 35 years to have created a new field of chemistry — namely, one in which the mechanical bond is a pre-eminent feature of molecular compounds. He has pioneered the development of the use of molecular recognition and self-assembly processes in template-directed protocols for the syntheses of two-state mechanically interlocked molecules (MIMs), i.e., bistable catenanes and rotaxanes, that have been employed as molecular switches in the fabrication of molecular electronic devices (MEDs) and NanoElectroMechanical Systems (NEMS) and in the development of artificial molecular machines (AMMs). It was for this research that he was awarded, along with Jean-Pierre Sauvage (Strasbourg) and Ben Feringa (Groningen), the 2016 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for “The Design and Synthesis of Molecular Machines.”
His work has been recognized by many awards, including the Carbohydrate Chemistry Award of The Chemical Society (1978), the International Izatt-Christensen Award in Macrocyclic Chemistry (1993), the Cope Scholar Award of the American Chemical Society (1999), the Nagoya Gold Medal in Organic Chemistry (2004), the King Faisal International Prize in Science (2007), the Tetrahedron Prize for Creativity in Organic Chemistry (2007), the Albert Einstein World Award of Science (2007), the Foresight Nanotech Institute Feynman Prize in Nanotechnology (Experimental) (2007), the Cope Award of the American Chemical Society (2008), the Davy Medal of the Royal Society (2008) and the Science and Technology Cooperative Award of the Chinese Government (2019). He was one of ca. 20 research scientists to be invited by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences to participate in the Nobel Jubilee Symposium on “Frontiers of Molecular Sciences” in Stockholm in December 2001. In 2005, he received the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Science from Birmingham University, as well as being the recipient of the University of Edinburgh Alumnus of the Year 2005 Award. He has also received Honorary Degrees of Doctor of Science from the University of Twente (2006), Sheffield University (2008), Trinity College Dublin (2009), the University of St Andrews (2010), Nottingham University (2017), the Universidad Autonoma Madrid (2018), the Yerevan State Medical University (2018), the University of Southern Denmark (2018) and the University of Brasilia (2019), and Hong Kong Baptist University (2019).
He is currently on the International Advisory Boards of numerous journals, including Chemistry World, ChemPlusChem, and Macromolecular Rapid Communications. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society (1994), the German Academy (Leopoldina) of Natural Sciences (1999), the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2005), the Science Division of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (2006), and the Royal Society of New South Wales (2018), and an Honorary Lifetime Fellow of the Indian Chemical Society (2020). He was named a 2018/2019 Chemistry Europe Fellow and a Fellow of the American Chemical Society in 2019, a Distinguished Fellow of the Royal Society of New South Wales in 2022, an Honorary Lifetime Fellow of the Indian Chemical Society, and a Corresponding Member of the Australian Academy of Science. He is a Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2012), the National Academy of Sciences (2014), the European Academy of Sciences and Arts (2018), and the National Academy of Inventors (2019). He is a Foreign Member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (2018). He is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (2008) and the Royal Society of Chemistry (2011). He was appointed by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II as a Knight Bachelor in her 2007 New Year’s Honours List for his services to “Chemistry and Molecular Nanotechnology.” In 2010 he was the recipient of a Royal Medal, granted by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, and presented by Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, at the Royal Society of Edinburgh.
In addition to being made an Honorary Professor at the East China University of Science and Technology (2005) in Shanghai, Jilin University (2012) in Changchun, as well as the Carnegie Centenary Visiting Professor at the Scottish Universities in 2005, he was made a World Class University (WCU) Faculty at the Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST, 2011-2012), a Thousand Talent Scholar at Tianjin University (2014-2020), an Honorary Professor at the University of Nottingham (2014-Present), and a Visiting Professor at the University of New South Wales (2018-Present). Stoddart has been awarded named lectureships by, inter alia, the following universities — Alberta, Alabama, SUNY Albany, Appalachian State, Arkansas, Australian National University, Baylor, Brigham Young, Berkeley, Bristol, Chicago, Columbia, Cornell, Dalhousie, Dartmouth, Dundee, Edinburgh, ETH Zurich, Georgia Institute of Technology, Indiana, Hebrew Jerusalem, Illinois Institute of Technology, Iowa, John Innes Center, Hamilton, Kaiserslautern, Kansas, Karlsruhe, Louvain La Neuve, Manitoba, Marquette, Meadville, McGill, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri-St Louis, Montreal, Nevada, New Orleans, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Purdue, Queen’s Kingston, Regensburg, Rochester, Saskatoon, Simon-Fraser, Song Sil, Strasbourg, Stony Brook, Sydney, Texas Austin, Texas A&M, Texas Christian, University of California, University of Colorado, University of Kansas, University of Louisville, US Naval Academy, Vanderbilt, Victoria, Washington University, Wesleyan, West Florida, Western Ontario, Wichita State, Wisconsin, and Yale. He has also been Middle Rhine (1982), Troisième Cycle en Chemie (1988), and Atlantic Coast (1993) Lecturer. He went on Royal Society Lecture Tours of the USSR and Japan in 1986 and 1987, respectively, and was the Centenary Lecturer of the Royal Society of Chemistry (2014).
Some measure of the influence and impact of Stoddart’s work may be drawn from citation statistics. Two of his >1250 publications has been cited over 2,000 times, 10 over 1,000, 15 over 750, 36 over 500, 85 over 264, 218 over 100, and more than 480 over 50. He has an h-index of 158. He has given >1,000 plenary/invited lectures. During 50 years, almost 500 PhD and postdoctoral students have passed through his laboratories and been inspired by his imagination and creativity, and close on 100 have embarked subsequently upon successful independent academic careers.