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COLLEGE STATION --

Dr. Oleg V. Ozerov, professor of chemistry at Texas A&M University, has been selected as the 2012 recipient of one of the American Chemical Society's most prestigious honors, the Pure Chemistry Award.

First awarded in 1931 to two-time Nobel Prize-winning chemist Linus Pauling, the award celebrates independence of thought and originality in research among chemists 35 and under. It is bestowed annually by the ACS "to recognize and encourage fundamental research in pure chemistry carried out in North America by young men and women who have accomplished research of unusual merit for an individual on the threshold of his or her career."

Ozerov, whose research focus is synthetic organometallic chemistry and its applications in catalysis and energy-related problems, is cited "for the discovery of novel bond-making and bond-breaking reactions mediated by transition metal and main group derivatives." He will be honored next spring at the March 27 National Awards Ceremony and Banquet in conjunction with the 243rd ACS National Meeting in San Diego. He will receive $5,000 as well as a commemorative certificate.

Beyond the obvious personal ramifications, Ozerov's award represents an historic first for Texas A&M and the entire state. In addition being the first ACS Pure Chemistry Award winner from Texas, Ozerov is the most recent honoree since 1971 (R. Bruce King, University of Georgia) across the entire South.

"It is hard to overestimate the importance or significance of this award," said Dr. David H. Russell, Applied Biosystems/MDS Sciex Professor of Mass Spectrometry in Chemistry and head of the Department of Chemistry. "The Pure Chemistry Award is truly one of the 'crown jewels' of the annual ACS awards. Previous recipients of the award represent the who's who of the chemistry profession. Faculty members across the state of Texas are renowned for their accomplishments, and these individuals have received many accolades for their teaching, research and service to the state and nation. Professor Ozerov is the only faculty member to receive this award while on the faculty in Texas!"

Despite his relatively short research career, Ozerov's is a name already well known in national and international research circles, thanks to his major contributions to both traditional and novel areas of chemistry. He is widely respected as one of the world's foremost up-and-coming experts on transition-metal bonds and design of catalytic systems for a host of industry applications ranging from energy conversion to waste remediation, according to colleague Dr. François P. Gabbaï, a fellow professor of chemistry at Texas A&M and current chair of the ACS Division of Inorganic Chemistry.

"Oleg has established himself as a world leader in two distinct areas of chemistry," Gabbaï noted. "At age 35, he has developed new frontiers in transition metal and main group chemistry in ways that none of us could have imagined a few years ago and is now on an ascent toward future pioneering contributions."

Among other noteworthy projects, Ozerov is a principal investigator in a novel National Science Foundation-funded Center for Chemical Innovation (CCI) for solar energy known as the Powering the Planet Program. The effort seeks to capitalize on unique chemical ways to harness this model energy source and revolutionize a planet in desperate need of fossil fuel alternatives.

In general Ozerov and his research group engage in molecular design, targeting either unusual molecular structures or new ways to make or break chemical bonds -- worthwhile pursuits that he notes are absolutely necessary to ensure future progress in his profession and so many others.

"Chemical reactions are essentially sequences of bonds between various atoms being broken and formed in a particular order," Ozerov added. "Therefore, understanding how you can do these elementary steps is crucial for the development of new catalytic processes.

"I find particularly rewarding how the award is formulated, emphasizing thought, originality and fundamental discovery. These, along with mentorship, are the qualities I admire the most in other chemists and, when I look at the stunning company of the past winners I find myself in, I can easily see how they would have been selected on that basis."

Ozerov, who joined the Texas A&M faculty in 2009, completed his undergraduate studies at the Higher Chemical College of the Russian Academy of Science, then moved to the University of Kentucky to work under the supervision of Professor Folami T. Ladipo. Oleg completed his Ph.D. in 2000 in less than four years and moved to Indiana University, where he spent two years as a postdoctoral fellow in the group of Professor Kenneth G. Caulton and first delved into the new chemistry of ruthenium and rhenium in a pincer ligand context. He joined the faculty at Brandeis University as an assistant professor in 2002 and was promoted with early tenure in 2006 prior to coming to Texas A&M as a full professor at the age of 32, less than seven years after starting his independent career. His rapid ascent has been fueled by an impressive publication record that includes 15 papers from his doctoral and postdoctoral work, followed by more than 50 independent publications, including 20 since arriving at Texas A&M.

Ozerov has received several awards, including a Research Corporation Innovation Award (2003), an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship (2006) and a Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award (2007). An in-demand presenter at academic as well as industry-affiliated conferences and symposia worldwide, his research programs are extremely well-funded, with grants from the NSF, United States Department of Energy and the Robert A. Welch Foundation. In addition he is a member of the editorial board for the journals Chemical Science and Organometallics.

Ozerov is equally renowned as a great mentor to his students, whom he credits as much if not more so than himself for his latest award. Thus far in his brief Texas A&M career, he has attracted 10 graduate students, including two former Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) protégés. Two of them have received federal graduate fellowships. Former students and postdocs from the Ozerov group can be found in industry and academic positions worldwide. In addition, one-fifth of his papers feature an undergraduate co-author, most as a first author. His third-most cited paper was primarily the work of an undergraduate.

"Out of a dozen or so undergraduate students Oleg has mentored as research students, all but two are in top chemistry Ph.D. programs," Russell added. "This level of undergraduate mentoring success is very rare for someone with a stellar research record to match."

The American Chemical Society, founded in 1876 and chartered by the United States Congress, is the world's largest scientific society and leading source of scientific information. It is a non-profit, independent membership organization that represents professionals at any degree level and in any field of science that includes chemistry.

To learn more about Ozerov's research and accomplishments, visit http://www.chem.tamu.edu/faculty/ozerov.

Click here for more information on the ACS and its national awards program.

-aTm-

Contact: Shana K. Hutchins, (979) 862-1237 or shutchins@science.tamu.edu or Dr. Oleg V. Ozerov, (979) 845-5870 or ozerov@mail.chem.tamu.edu

Hutchins Shana

  • Dr. Oleg V. Ozerov

    Since the inception of the American Chemical Society's Pure Chemistry Award in 1931, Texas A&M Chemisty's Dr. Oleg V. Ozerov is the first winner from Texas and the first from the Southern region of the United States since 1971.

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