2021 ACS Roger Adams Award in Organic Chemistry

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Professor Kendall Houk receives the 2021 Roger Adams Award in Organic Chemistry, one of the most important awards given by the ACS. 

Houk Rogers Award 21 0The biannual award recognizes outstanding contributions to research in organic chemistry. Houk was honored at the American Chemical Society (ACS) National Meeting and Symposium in Atlanta, Georgia on August 22, 2021, and he will deliver the Award Lecture at the Biennial National Organic Chemistry Symposium at UC San Diego in June of 2022. In addition, Houk received a medallion, certificate, and a prize of $25,000. (Right) Professor Ken Houk onstage at the awards ceremony.

Houk is the second UCLA faculty member to receive the award, Nobel Laureate Professor Donald J. Cram received the award in 1985. The award was established in 1959 by Organic Reactions, Inc. and Organic Syntheses, Inc., in honor of Dr. Roger Adams, one of the greats of 20th century organic chemistry.

Houk has pioneered the use of computer calculations and simulations to study organic chemistry and to predict chemical reactivity that will have important applications in industry and in therapies for fighting disease. He has been recognized around the world for the impact of his scientific discoveries, including by the Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award from the ACS in 1988, the 1991 ACS James Flack Norris Award in Physical Organic Chemistry, the 1998 Schrödinger Medal of the World Association of Theoretical and Computational Chemists, and the Arthur C. Cope Award of the ACS in 2009. In 2010, Houk was elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and in 2012 became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry. 

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At the event, from left: Yi Tang (UCLA), Ken Houk, Paul Alivisatos (former Lawrence Berkeley lab director and now Provost at UC-Berkeley, and next month becomes President of the University of Chicago, who gave his Priestley Medal address at the awards event), Michelle Tran-Dube (Pfizer-La Jolla), and Ryan Shenvi (Scripps, Corey Award this year).

Although Houk retired in 2016 after 31 years at UCLA, he has continued to have a thriving research group. Last year he received UCLA’s 2019-20 Edward A Dickson Emeritus Professorship Award in recognition of his outstanding contributions and service since retirement. 

To learn more about Houk, visit his group’s website.

Photos courtesty of Professor Ken Houk.

Penny Jennings, UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, penny@chem.ucla.ed