The Arthur Birch lecture

Professor Arthur John 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, fifteen 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.

Year Professor Home institution Subject


Professor Frances Arnold

2018 Nobel Laureate

California Institute of Technology

Innovation by Evolution: Bringing New Chemistry to Life


Professor Krzysztof Matyjaszewski

Carnegie Mellon University

Macromolecular Engineering by Taming Free Radicals


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


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


Professor Barry Trost

Stanford University

On the Invention of Pd Catalyzed Reactions for Enabling Chemical Synthesis


Professor Steven Ley

University of Cambridge

New Tools for Molecule Makers


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


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


Professor Sir Harry Kroto
1999 Nobel Laureate

University of Sussex

2010, a nanospace odyssey


Professor Peter G Schultz

Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla

Expanding the genetic code


Professor David A Evans

Harvard University

Asymmetric catalysis with chiral metal complexes


Professor Hubert Schmidbaur

Technische Universität München

Gold chemistry: from alchemy to relativity and back


Professor Arthur Kornberg
1959 Nobel Laureate

Stanford University School of Medicine

Science and medicine at the millennium


Professor Peter Day

The Royal Institution of Great Britain

What is a material?


Professor Jean-Marie Lehn
1987 Nobel Laureate

Université Louis Pasteur, Strasbourg and College de France, Paris

Supramolecular chemistry: concepts and perspectives


Professor Robert G Bergman

University of California, Berkeley

Activation of hydrocarbons with transition metal compounds


Professor John S Rowlinson

Oxford University, UK

Entropy and Information


Professor Alex Pines

University of California and Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory

Some magnetic moments


Professor Sir John M Thomas FRS

Formerly Director, Royal Institution London, Deputy Pro Chancellor, University of Wales

New catalysts for a clean environment


Professor Jeremy Knowles

Harvard University

Enzyme catalysists: not different, just better


Professor Ryoji Noyori
2001 Nobel Laureate

Nagoya University

Asymmetric catalysis: science and opportunities


Professor J D Dunitz

Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule, Zürich

Chemical reaction paths from crystal structure data


No lecture



Professor Gilbert Stork

Columbia University, New York

Radical cyclisation in natural product synthesis


Professor Roald Hoffmann
1981 Nobel Laureate


Building bridges between organic and inorganic chemistry


Professor Rudolph A Marcus
1992 Nobel Laureate

California Institute of Technology

Electron transfer reactions: theory and experiment


Professor Elias J Corey
1990 Nobel Laureate

Harvard University

Total synthesis of biologically active molecules


Professor Henry Taube
1983 Nobel Laureate

Stanford University

Back bonding as it affects reactivity


Professor J A Pople
1998 Nobel Laureate

Carnegie-Mellon University

Obital theory, structure and reactivity


Professor A Eschenmoser

Eidgenössische technische hochschule, Zürich

Organic synthesis and the origin of natural products