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Richard R. Schrock is the Frederick G. Keyes Professor of Chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was born on January 4, 1945, the third of three boys, in Berne, a farming town in Northeast Indiana. His older brother gave him a chemistry set for his 8th birthday, which sparked his interest in science and chemistry in particular. The family moved near San Diego, California, when Richard was 14. He graduated from Mission Bay High School in Pacific Beach, California, in 1963, and the University of California at Riverside in 1967, where he worked on atmospheric chemistry with Prof. James L. Pitts. A course taught by Fred Hawthorne attracted him into inorganic chemistry, and Jerry Bell encouraged him to apply to Harvard for graduate school. He received his Ph.D. degree from Harvard in 1971 under the direction of John Osborn, who had been a student of Sir Geoffrey Wilkinson at Imperial College, London.
Richard met Nancy Carlson in 1969, while he was
in graduate school. They married in August 1971, soon
after he defended his dissertation. For one year (1971-72)
Richard was an NIH post-doctoral fellow at Cambridge University,
where he worked with Jack Lewis (later Lord Lewis). He was
hired by DuPont to work in the Central Research Department
at the Experimental Station in Wilmington, Delaware, where
he shared a lab with Fred Tebbe. At DuPont Richard discovered
a new type of alkylidene complex, an unusually stable trineopentylneopentylidenetantalum
species. In 1975 Richard was invited to become a faculty
member at MIT, where he has been ever since. His wife
added a master's degree in art history to her graduate degree
in library science and learned bookbinding through an apprenticeship.
Their sons Andrew and Eric were born in 1978 and 1981, respectively. Nancy
worked for 9 years at Harvard and has held an endowed position
as the rare book conservator at MIT since 2007.
His largest research area today concerns molybdenum
and tungsten alkylidene complexes (M=CHR). Recently he
discovered a fundamentally new class of unusual "stereogenic-at-metal" metathesis
complexes with high metathesis activity and unusual behavior
in terms of fundamental inorganic and catalytic chemistry. These
new catalysts are expected to be of significant utility for
the synthesis of organic molecules and new polymers. These
SM (stereogenic metal) alkylidene complexes hold a great deal
of promise for future developments in metathesis chemistry.
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