Professor Holger Braunschweig CChem FRSC
Winner: 2021 Dalton Division open award:
Mond-Nyholm Prize for Inorganic Chemistry
For contributions to the chemistry of reactive low-oxidation-state main-group molecules, including their applications in catalysis.
Celebrate Professor Holger Braunschweig
Professor Braunschweig's research group designs and makes new, reactive molecules with types of bonds that have not been seen before. These new molecules are then tested for unusual properties or promising abilities for further use in synthesis and catalysis, with the aim of developing new materials, new catalysts, or more efficient and sustainable syntheses of societally relevant compounds.Read winner biography
Professor Holger Braunschweig FRSC is Chair and Head of Inorganic Chemistry, and Founding Director of the Institute for Sustainable Chemistry & Catalysis with Boron (ICB), at the Julius- Maximilians-Universität Würzburg, Germany.
Professor Braunschweig received his academic training in chemistry at RWTH Aachen, where he obtained his PhD in 1990. After postdoctoral research with Professor Lappert, FRS, at the University of Sussex, he returned to Aachen for his habilitation with Professor P Paetzold. In 2000 he was appointed Senior Lecturer at Imperial College London and was soon promoted to Reader before taking up the prestigious Chair of Inorganic Chemistry at the University of Würzburg as the successor of Professor Helmut Werner.
His discoveries have led to nearly 600 publications, including over 200 publications in journals with impact factors higher than ten. His work has been highlighted by The Times, Scientific American, New Scientist, Nature, Science, Chemistry World, Chemical & Engineering News, Der Spiegel and many others. His achievements have been recognised by his peers in a variety of ways, including the 2014 Royal Society of Chemistry Main Group Award, the 2016 German Chemical Society Alfred Stock Memorial Award, and the 2009 Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize of the DFG. As well as receiving prestigious grants (two ERC Advanced Grants, and the Reinhard Koselleck Grant of the DFG) he is a member of four scientific academies (German, Bavarian, North Rhine-Westfalian, and Indian academies).
What motivates you?
I am motivated the most by the opportunity to do chemistry and science in its most fundamental and un-applied forms, where imagination and pure curiosity can combine with hard work to start entirely new fields of research.
What does good research culture look like/mean to you?
To me, the clever choice of targets and research avenues is crucial to creating good science and avoiding getting stuck in mindless, time-sucking tasks. I’m not interested in creating a research group full of overworked, irritable zombies – a healthy group environment results in more curiosity, more creativity, and better results.
What is your favourite element?
This is an easy one: boron has been the central element of my research from the very beginning. Back then it was a little-studied element full of potential. Nowadays it seems like boron is everywhere and playing critical roles in a wide range of applications. We would probably now say that the chemistry of boron is quite well understood, but I believe this little element has quite a few tricks left up its sleeve.