May 10, 2016

Graham Fleming. Photo by Roy Kaltschmidt, Berkeley Lab.
Photo by Roy Kaltschmidt, Berkeley Lab

Chemistry professor Graham R. Fleming has won the Royal Chemistry Society’s Faraday Lectureship Prize 2016.

Says Fleming, “It is an honor to join the very select company of previous College of Chemistry winners of this award.” The other CoC winners are Y.T. Lee (1992), Alex Pines (2004) and Richard Saykally (2012).

The prize was awarded for experimental and theoretical achievements that have redefined the study and understanding of fundamental chemical and photobiological processes in liquids, solutions and proteins.

Fleming, 67, studied chemistry at Bristol University and wrote his Ph.D. at the Royal Institution in London with George Porter. He was a postdoc with G. Wilse Robinson at Caltech and the University of Melbourne before returning to the Royal Institution.

In 1979, Fleming moved to the University of Chicago and remained there for 18 years. In 1997, he moved to UC Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL). He is currently the Melvin Calvin Distinguished Professor of Chemistry at Berkeley and a Senior Faculty Scientist at LBNL.

Fleming was the founding director of the Physical Biosciences Division of LBNL and of the Institute for Quantitative Biosciences (QB3) at Berkeley. He served as Deputy Laboratory Director of LBNL and Vice Chancellor for Research at Berkeley, during which periods many large multidisciplinary research initiatives and institutes were created at Berkeley and LBNL in areas such as biofuels, artificial photosynthesis, data science, global change biology and the theory of computing.

His current research interests are in condensed phase dynamics and in ultrafast nonlinear spectroscopy to study such dynamics. A particular emphasis in his research is photosynthetic light harvesting and its regulation via nonphotochemical quenching. He has been a leader in the development of multidimensional optical spectroscopy.

The Faraday Prize, founded in 1867, commemorates Michael Faraday (1791-1867), an elected fellow and advocate of what was known then as the Chemical Society. Says Fleming, “The Faraday award has special significance for me because I did my Ph.D. work at the Royal Institution in London where Michael Faraday, perhaps the greatest experimental scientist ever, spent his entire career. I could see his epoch-changing discoveries in electromagnetism, and much else, every day in the small museum next to my lab.”

Robert Parker, the Royal Society of Chemistry’s chief executive, says, "It is an honor to recognize the illustrious achievements of our prize- and award-winners in our 175th anniversary year. We were founded in 1841 by a group of academics, industrialists and doctors who understood the power of the chemical sciences to change our world for the better.”

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