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On February 12th, the Cluster of Excellence, "Unifying Concepts in Catalysis" (UniCat) presented Dr. Rebecca Melen with the 2016 Clara Immerwahr Award.
Rebecca has been selected as this year’s winner of the award for her “outstanding contributions to the field of inorganic chemistry, in particular for the use of main group elements instead of transition metals for catalytic reactions”.
This prestigious award, named after the German Chemist who in 1900 was the first woman in Germany to be awarded a doctorate in chemistry, recognises the outstanding achievements of a female scientist at an early career stage of their research.
During the award ceremony which was held in Berlin, Rebecca spoke about her current research, ‘Main Group Catalysis: A Transition Metal Alternative?’ “I am thrilled to hear that I have been honoured with the Clara Immerwahr Award. The award provides a great opportunity to study at the UniCat Centre in Berlin where I will explore some new avenues of research”.
The Award provides Rebecca with prize money to the value of €15,000 which will give her the opportunity to participate in collaborative research projects with researchers at the Cluster of Excellence UniCat. The aim of the proposed work is to develop chiral aluminum catalysts for enantioselective transformations.
Rebecca is no stranger to awards and has achieved great success so far in her relatively young career. She was also recently awarded an Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council Award through their “First Grant” scheme which will help her establish her research program.
In 2013 Rebecca was highlighted in Scientific American as one of 30 scientists under 30 to watch out for, having received the award that year for RSC Dalton Young Researcher and in 2014 she was awarded the European Young Researcher award.
When she left Trent College in 2004 Rebecca attended Magdalene College Cambridge where she studied Natural Sciences, majoring in Chemistry. She completed her PhD in 2012 in Main Group Chemistry under the guidance of Dr Dominic Wright at Cambridge. Rebecca then travelled to Canada where she spent time working with Professor Doug Stephan at the University of Toronto, exploring the use of Lewis acids to catalyse organic transformations. During this time she was awarded an Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship to study in Heidelberg with Professor Dr Lutz Gade.
In 2014, Rebecca moved back to England, and settled in Cardiff where she is currently a University Lecturer with interests in diverse aspects of main group reactivity including main group catalysis.