Robert Grubbs

Robert Grubbs

CLEMSON — Renowned chemist Robert H. Grubbs, who won a Nobel prize for unlocking the door for new customizable polymers and other advanced materials, will speak at Clemson University April 11.

The event is free and open to the public and will be streamed live at

“Few Nobel laureates have spoken on campus in Clemson’s rich history, so this is a rare opportunity for students, faculty, staff and the entire community to hear from a gifted scientist whose work continues to drive innovations across many disciplines,” said Tanju Karanfil, vice president for research.

Grubbs, the Victor and Elizabeth Atkins Professor of Chemistry at the California Institute of Technology, was co-recipient of the Nobel prize for chemistry in 2005 for the development of the metathesis method in organic synthesis. Metathesis is an organic reaction that allows chemists to replace certain atoms in a compound with atoms from another compound to create customized molecules with specialized properties. Metathesis has paved the way for the development of new polymers, pharmaceuticals, plastics and other materials.

“Dr. Grubbs’ innovative olefin metathesis allowed us to witness the developments of new platforms of greener polymers that are less costly to produce, and unveiled numerous opportunities for new biologically active materials with tremendous industrial and medical applications,” said Marek Urban, the J.E. Sirrine Textile Foundation endowed chair in advanced fiber-based materials and professor in Clemson’s materials science and engineering department.

Grubbs will speak at 2:30 p.m. at the Watt Family Innovation Center. A reception will follow at 4 p.m. The Division of Research is hosting the event. The reception is sponsored by NBSC, a division of Synovus Bank and SC SmartState Centers of Economic Excellence.

Grubbs will also speak April 12 at the Greenville Hyatt Regency at the annual Forum of Endowed Chairs sponsored by SC SmartState Centers of Economic Excellence.