The Arthur Birch lecture

Professor Arthur Birch

The Award was established in 1981 in honour of Arthur J. Birch, MSc (Sydney & Manchester), DPhil (Oxon), FRIC, FRACI, FAA, FRS, to pay tribute to his extensive contributions to the Research School of Chemistry from its founding in 1967. The Birch (and Craig) Lectures are highlights in the School's calendar year.

The aim of the visit of the Birch Lecturer is to enable eminent chemists to deliver a series of lectures on their research and to interact with School students and staff.

Birch Lecturers are chemists who are at the peak of their international career. The accompanying list of former lecturers is testament to the superb quality of honoraries who have visited the Research School, sixteen of whom are Nobel Laureates.

The program for the Birch Lecturer will normally include the Birch Lecture (suitable for a general chemistry audience), one or two more specialised research seminars, the Birch Dinner, and occasionally an Academy Lecture (suitable for a wider audience that may include government decision makers). The award is allocated on an annual basis and the Birch Lecturer will spend about one week in the School.

Former Birch Lecturers

Year Professor Home institution Subject
2018 Professor Krzysztof Matyjaszewski Carnegie Mellon University Macromolecular Engineering by Taming Free Radicals
2017 Professor Sir Christopher Dobson University of Cambridge The Amyloid State of Proteins and its Significance in Biology and Medicine

Professor Arieh Warshel

2013 Nobel Laureate

University of Southern California Modeling the action of complex biological systems on a molecular level

Professor Samir Zard

Ecole Polytechnique

Fun with Radicals. A Matter of Lifetime

2014 Professor Dame Carol Robinson University of Oxford

Membranes, Micelles and Motors – Maintaining the Momentum


Professor Sir Fraser Stoddart

2016 Nobel Laureate

Northwestern University New Twists and Turns in Radical Organic Chemistry

Professor Dan Shechtman

2011 Nobel Laureate

Technion, Haifa

The Discovery of Quasi-periodic Materials. A Paradigm Change in Crystallography

2011 Professor Barry Trost Stanford University On the Invention of Pd Catalyzed Reactions for Enabling Chemical Synthesis
2010 Professor Steven Ley University of Cambridge New Tools for Molecule Makers
2009 Professor Daniel G. Nocera Henry Dreyfus Professor of Energy, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Powering the planet: the challenge for science in the 21st century

Professor Thomas A. Steitz

2009 Nobel Laureate

Yale University, Bass Center for Molecular and Structural Biology The structural basis of the function of the ribosome and its large subunit, a major antibiotic target

Professor Richard R. Schrock

2005 Nobel Laureate

Massachusetts Institute of Technology The Discovery and Development of Alkene and Alkyne Metathesis Reactions
2006 Professor Michael Graetzel Ecole Polytechnique de Lausanne, Switzerland Light and energy, mimicking natural photosynthesis

Professor Roger Tsien

2008 Nobel Laureate

University of California, San Diego Building and breeding molecules to spy on cells and tumors

Professor Robert H Grubbs
2005 Nobel Laureate

Victor & Elizabeth Atkins Professor of Chemistry, Caltech Ruthenium-based catalysts for olefin metathesis
2003 Professor Sir Harry Kroto
1999 Nobel Laureate
University of Sussex 2010, a nanospace odyssey
2002 Professor Peter G Schultz Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla Expanding the genetic code
2000 Professor David A Evans Harvard University Asymmetric catalysis with chiral metal complexes
1999 Professor Hubert Schmidbaur Technische Universität München Gold chemistry: from alchemy to relativity and back
1998 Professor Arthur Kornberg
1959 Nobel Laureate
Stanford University School of Medicine Science and medicine at the millennium
1997 Professor Peter Day The Royal Institution of Great Britain What is a material?
1996 Professor Jean-Marie Lehn
1987 Nobel Laureate
Université Louis Pasteur, Strasbourg and College de France, Paris Supramolecular chemistry: concepts and perspectives
1995 Professor Robert G Bergman University of California, Berkeley Activation of hydrocarbons with transition metal compounds
1994 Professor John S Rowlinson Oxford University, UK Entropy and Information
1993 Professor Alex Pines University of California and Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory Some magnetic moments
1992 Professor Sir John M Thomas FRS Formerly Director, Royal Institution London, Deputy Pro Chancellor, University of Wales New catalysts for a clean environment
1991 Professor Jeremy Knowles Harvard University Enzyme catalysists: not different, just better
1990 Professor Ryoji Noyori
2001 Nobel Laureate
Nagoya University Asymmetric catalysis: science and opportunities
1989 Professor J D Dunitz Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule, Zürich Chemical reaction paths from crystal structure data
1988 No lecture    
1987 Professor Gilbert Stork Columbia University, New York Radical cyclisation in natural product synthesis
1986 Professor Roald Hoffmann
1981 Nobel Laureate
  Building bridges between organic and inorganic chemistry
1985 Professor Rudolph A Marcus
1992 Nobel Laureate
California Institute of Technology Electron transfer reactions: theory and experiment
1984 Professor Elias J Corey
1990 Nobel Laureate
Harvard University Total synthesis of biologically active molecules
1983 Professor Henry Taube
1983 Nobel Laureate
Stanford University Back bonding as it affects reactivity
1982 Professor J A Pople
1998 Nobel Laureate
Carnegie-Mellon University Obital theory, structure and reactivity
1981 Professor A Eschenmoser Eidgenössische technische hochschule, Zürich Organic synthesis and the origin of natural products


Updated:  11 December 2018/Responsible Officer:  Director, RSC/Page Contact:  Web Admin, RSC