The Chemical Heritage Foundation (CHF) announced on February 4 that Academician Yuan Tseh Lee, the 1986 Nobel laureate in chemistry, will receive the 2008 Othmer Gold Medal. The award ceremony and the annual Othmer Gold Medal luncheon will open the seventh annual Heritage Day on Thursday, May 15, 2008. This full day of awards and honors marks the 11th annual presentation of the Othmer Gold Medal.
The Chemical Heritage Foundation 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 President and CEO of CHF, Prof. Thomas R. Tritton said, “Lee persevered in education, excelled in research, and earned one of humankind’s highest honors—the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Following three successful decades in America, he returned to Taiwan, taking a leadership role in education reform and better relations with China.”
Academician Lee received the Nobel Prize in 1986 along with Dudley R. Herschbach and John C. Polanyi for their contributions to the study of the dynamics of chemical reactions. Their research contributed to the field of reaction dynamics by allowing the study of complex reaction mechanisms beyond the capability of previous methods.
Academician Yuan Tseh Lee was born on 19 November 1936 in Hsinchu, Taiwan. He received his B.S. from National Taiwan University, his M.S. from Tsinghua University, and his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. In 1967 Lee joined the Harvard University group working on molecular beam experiments under Dudley Herschbach. After being appointed assistant professor at the University of Chicago in 1968, Lee rapidly made his laboratory the North American capital of molecular beam study.
Academician Lee has received numerous awards and honors, including the 1986 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, the U.S. National Medal of Science, the Faraday Medal and Prize from the Royal Chemical Society of Great Britain, and the Jawaharlal Nehru Birth Centenary Medal from the Indian National Science Academy. He has also been awarded the Ernest O. Lawrence Award of the U.S. Department of Energy, the Harrison Howe Award, and the Peter Debye Award of Physical Chemistry from the American Chemical Society.
He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a foreign member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the Göttingen Academy of Sciences, the Indian Academy of Sciences, the Korean Academy of Science and Technology, the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences, the Japanese Academy, and the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.
In 1980 Academician Lee became a member of the Academia Sinica, serving as its president from 1994 to 2006. He is also a member of the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World, and the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. He is now Distinguished Research Fellow of the Institute of Atomic and Molecular Sciences Jointly Appointed by the Genomics Research Center at Academia Sinica. Academician Lee has received 34 honorary doctoral degrees from universities around the world.