Gem of the Day 2/8: Texas A&M Chemist Honored

By: Texas A&M
By: Texas A&M

Dr. Oleg V. Ozerov, professor of chemistry at Texas A&M University, was named Wednesday (Feb. 8) the 2012 recipient of the Norman Hackerman Award in Chemical Research for his work in organometallic chemistry and its applications in catalysis and energy.

Ozerov's research explores molecular design, targeting either unusual molecular structures or new ways to make or break chemical bonds, including discoveries with potential significance for a greener environment.

The Hackerman Award is bestowed annually by the Houston-based Welch Foundation, one of the nation's oldest and largest sources of private funding for basic research in chemistry, to researchers early in their careers working in Texas.

Ozerov was recognized Wednesday at an on-campus luncheon hosted by The Welch Foundation at the Clayton W. Williams Jr. Alumni Center, where he was presented with the crystal rising star sculpture and $100,000.

"At only 35, Dr. Ozerov already has made significant contributions in both transition metals and main group chemistry that may ultimately improve our world," said Wilhelmina E. (Beth) Robertson, Welch Foundation chair. "Known for his chemical ingenuity, his work is aimed at exploring exciting new facets of chemistry."

In one significant achievement, he has found a new way to break the carbon-fluorine bond — one of the strongest in chemistry — at room temperature. Many of the super greenhouse gases believed involved in global warming have these types of bonds, which typically exist almost indefinitely. He has demonstrated a technique to convert these compounds into something more benign. This work may lead to the ability to destroy atmospheric pollutants such as CFCs, HFCs and possibly PFCs.

In other important work, Ozerov created pincer ligands that can attach to transition metals to create new catalysts. These ligands allow exquisite control over the reactivity of transition metal complexes in catalysis and fundamental explorations. Using ligand design as a tool, he has developed improved catalysts as well as generated fundamental discoveries on both reactivity and structure.

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