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Richard Royce Schrock (born 4 January 1945) is an American chemist and Nobel laureate recognized for his contributions to the metathesis reaction used in organic chemistry.


Born in Berne, Indianamarker, Schrock went to Mission Bay High School in San Diego, Californiamarker. He holds a B.A. (1967) from the University of California, Riversidemarker and a Ph. D. (1971) from Harvard Universitymarker. At Harvard he studied under J.A. Osborn. In 1971-72, he carried out postdoctoral studies at the University of Cambridgemarker with Lord Jack Lewis. In 1972, he was hired by DuPont, where he worked at the Experimental Stationmarker in Wilmington, Delawaremarker in the group of George Parshall. He joined the faculty of the Massachusetts Institute of Technologymarker in 1975 and became full professor in 1980.

He has held his current post, the Frederick G. Keyes Professor of Chemistry, at MIT since [1989. Schrock is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciencesmarker, National Academy of Sciencesmarker and was elected to the Board of Overseers of Harvard University in 2007.

He married Nancy Carlson in 1971 and has two children, Andrew and Eric. Nancy Schrock is the Thomas F. Peterson, Jr. Conservator of Special Collections for the MIT Libraries. The family live in Winchester, Massachusettsmarker.

Nobel Prize

In 2005, Schrock received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, with Robert H. Grubbs and Yves Chauvin, for his work in the area of olefin metathesis, an organic synthesis technique. Schrock was the first to elucidate the structure and mechanism of so called 'black box' olefin metathesis catalysts. Initial work at DuPont involved the synthesis of tantalum alkylidenes, alkylidenes being a crucial resting state in the catalytic cycle of olefin metathesis. His work at MIT has led to a detailed understanding of a group of molybdenum alkylidenes and alkylidynes which are active olefin and alkyne methathesis catalysts, respectively. Schrock has done much work to demonstrate that metallacyclobutanes are the key intermediate in olefin metathesis, with metallacyclobutadienes being the key intermediate in alkyne methathesis.

Many supporting ligands have been explored in efforts to better understand the nature of the single molecule catalysts, most notably 2,6-diisopropylphenylimido and adamantylimido, as well as various tert-butyl alkoxides with varying degrees of fluorination. The prototypical Schrock catalyst is (R"O)2(R'N)Mo(CHR) where R = tert-butyl, R' = 2,6-diisopropylphenyl, and R" = C(Me)(CF3)2. Such catalysts are now commercially available from such major suppliers as Sigma-Aldrich, and are used frequently in synthetic applications of olefin metathesis. Schrock's work is ongoing with goals of furthering the understanding of metathesis selectivity, developing new catalyst architectures, as well as projects outside of metathesis, such as elucidating the mechanism of dinitrogen fixation and developing single molecule catalysts which form ammonia from dinitrogen, mimicking the activity of nitrogenase enzymes in biology.

Schrock carbenes are named after Schrock.

Awards and Honours

  • ACS Award in Organometallic Chemistry (1985)
  • Harrison Howe Award of the Rochester ACS section (1990)
  • Alexander von Humboldt Award (1995)
  • ACS Award in Inorganic Chemistry (1996)
  • Bailar Medal from the University of Illinois (1998)
  • ACS Cope Scholar Award (2001)
  • Sir Geoffrey Wilkinson Lecturer and Medalist (2002)
  • Sir Edward Frankland Prize Lecturer (2004)
  • Nobel Prize in Chemistry (2005)
  • F. Albert Cotton Award in Synthetic Inorganic Chemistry (2006)
  • Theodore Richards Medal from the Northeast ACS section (2006)
  • August Wilhelm von Hofmann Medal from the German Chemical Society (2005)
  • Basolo Medal (2007)



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