Professor Iain McCulloch
Winner: 2020 Interdisciplinary Prize
Imperial College London and King Abdullah University of Science and Technology
For advances in the design, synthesis and innovative application of functional materials in optics, electronics, and energy.
Celebrate Professor Iain McCulloch
Professor Iain McCulloch’s research has focused on using chemical molecular design and synthesis to create new organic materials capable of enabling applications in optics, electronics and sensors. These materials have specific functionality which can facilitate for example, light absorption to enable new flexible solar cells, detection of metabolites for bioelectronic sensors, electron conduction for transistors, and more recently, enhanced hydrogen production from the photochemical catalysis of water.Read full biography
Professor Iain McCulloch has a BSc and PhD from the Department of Chemistry at the University of Strathclyde. His research career began in industry, for Hoechst AG in the United States and then Merck KGaA in England, where he was responsible for research and development, inventions and commercial products in functional materials for optics and electronics. He has made discoveries in chemical design and synthesis to control the assembly of organic semiconducting molecules to form ordered structures with high performing electrical and optical properties, for use in a range of devices including transistors and solar cells.
Professor McCulloch transitioned to academia in 2007, where he currently holds positions as Chair in Polymer Materials within the Chemistry Department at Imperial College, Professor of Chemical Science at KAUST, and as the Director of KAUST Solar Center. He was awarded the 2009 Royal Society of Chemistry Creativity in Industry Prize, the 2014 Royal Society of Chemistry Tilden Prize for Advances in Chemistry and the 2020 Blaise Pascal Medal of the European Academy of Sciences in Materials Science, as well as a 2014 Royal Society Wolfson Merit Award. In 2020 he was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society.
Why do you think teamwork is important in science?
Teamwork is beneficial in all aspects of science. It allows for greater efficiency and speed to achieve goals and teaches researchers collaborative skills that can enhance their research output. The aim of any good team is to ensure that all members experience a positive outcome from the work, and are led by inspiring and ambitious, yet achievable goals. Above all, it is more fun to work as part of a team, consoling during moments of uncertainty and enjoying successes together.
Why do you think interdisciplinary research and collaboration is important in science?
Progress in science benefits from diversity in all forms, including diversity of disciplines. Bringing different viewpoints to a problem broadens perspectives and can lead to enhanced innovation and new ideas.