Robert H. Grubbs

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Robert H. Grubbs
Robert H. Grubbs HD2010 AIC Gold Medal 2.JPG
AIC Gold Medal recipient, 2010
Born (1942-02-27) February 27, 1942 (age 82)
Possum Trot, Kentucky USA
Nationality United States
Fields Organic chemistry
Institutions California Institute of Technology
Alma mater University of Florida (B.S, 1963)[1]
University of Florida (M.S, 1965)[2]
Columbia University (Ph.D, 1968)[3]
Known for the development of the metathesis
method in organic synthesis
Notable awards Tolman Award (2002)
Linus Pauling Award (2003)
Nobel Prize in Chemistry (2005)
Spouse Helen O'Kane-Grubbs

Robert Howard Grubbs (born February 27, 1942 Possum Trot, Kentucky) is an American chemist and Nobel laureate.

As he noted in his official Nobel Prize autobiography, "In some places, my birthplace is listed as Calvert City and in others Possum Trot [NB: both in Marshall County]. I was actually born between the two, so either one really is correct."[4] He spent his early childhood in Marshall County and attended public school at McKinley Elementary, Franklin Junior High and Paducah Tilghman High School in Paducah, Kentucky. Grubbs studied chemistry at the University of Florida (B.S. and M.S.), where he worked with Merle Battiste, and Columbia University, where he obtained his Ph.D. under Ronald Breslow in 1968.

He next spent a year with James Collman at Stanford University. He was then appointed to the faculty of Michigan State University. In 1978 he moved to California Institute of Technology where he is the Victor and Elizabeth Atkins Professor of Chemistry.

His main interests in organometallic chemistry and synthetic chemistry are catalysts, notably Grubbs' catalyst for olefin metathesis and ring-opening metathesis polymerization with cyclic olefins such as norbornene. He also contributed to the development of so-called "living polymerization".

Grubbs is married to Helen Grubbs, a retired SLP elementary school teacher,[5] with three children—all of whom have earned a PhD or an M.D.

In October 2010 Grubbs participated in the USA Science and Engineering Festival's Lunch with a Laureate program where middle and high school students got to engage in an informal conversation with a Nobel Prize–winning scientist over a brown-bag lunch.[6] He is a member of the USA Science and Engineering Festival's Advisory Board.[7] He is also a member of the Reliance Innovation Council formed by Reliance Industries Limited, India.[8]


Grubbs received the 2005 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, along with Richard R. Schrock and Yves Chauvin, for his work in the field of olefin metathesis.


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