Professor Rodolphe Clérac
Winner: 2022 RSC/SCF Lectureship in Chemical Sciences
CNRS - Université de Bordeaux
For the development of new research areas in molecular magnetism and contributions to the study of magnetic materials.
Celebrate Professor Rodolphe Clérac
Professor Clérac’s team build matter from the atomic level using metals and organic molecules in order to organise them to promote one or several targeted physical properties. This requires a strong synergy between the chemistry and physics of these systems. It is this duality that fascinates Professor Clérac and inspires his research work on molecule-based magnetic materials and molecular magnets. His group’s work offers broad prospects for the preparation of a new generation of lightweight magnetic materials that could be applied within aeronautics, space or mobile technologies and the electronics of tomorrow.Read winner biography
Professor Rodolphe Clérac was born in 1971 in Versailles (France) andreceived his education in physical chemistry at the University of Bordeaux 1. His PhD work was devoted to the physical properties of molecular antiferromagnetic materials under the supervision of Professor C Coulon (in 1997).
After a short postdoctoral stay in the group of Professor O Kahn (ICMCB, Bordeaux), he joined, in 1998, Professor K R Dunbar’s group at Michigan State University (USA) and worked on the magnetic properties of coordination chemistry-based materials. In 1999, he moved with Professor K R Dunbar’s group to Texas A&M University (USA) where he collaborated with Professor F A Cotton on the magnetic properties of metal-metal bonded complexes. He joined the University of Bordeaux 1 in 2000 as Associate Professor. In 2008, he became full CNRS (Centre de Recherche Paul Pascal) Researcher. In 2013 he was promoted to CNRS Research Director.
In 2019, Professor Clérac was elected to the European Academy of Sciences and the Academia Europaea in 2020. He became a Distinguished Young Fellow of the French Chemical Society in 2014. His awards include the CNRS Silver Medal (2021), the France-Berkeley Fund Award (2017), the National Chinese Award of the "1000 Talents Program" (2014) and the Young Researcher award of the Physical Chemistry Division of the SCF (2009). Dr Clérac’s molecular materials and magnetism research group is based at the Centre de Recherche Paul Pascal (CNRS).
How did you first become interested in chemistry?
As far back as I can remember, I think I have always been passionate about chemistry and, more generally, by experimental sciences including also physics and biology. I have a clear memory of school teachers who have initiated this passion for science in me, and I will never thank them enough.
Who or what has inspired you?
Chemists and physicists from the beginning of the 20th century are really an inspiration for me. It was an incredible revolutionary time for science.
What motivates you?
For me, being a chemist, or more generally a researcher in science, requires an unlimited motivation to learn every single day, to understand and to pass on, while always being passionate, tenacious (without obstinacy!) and of course modest facing the complexity of our scientific projects. I am used to saying, that a good day is a day that I come back home with something I learnt, even a tiny thing.
What advice would you give to a young person considering a career in chemistry?
Forget about what is easy to do and fashionable in science; instead take risks, be ambitious, create new knowledge, dream as much as you can at the frontier of different scientific domains, and do what people thought was impossible!
Can you tell us about a scientific development on the horizon that you are excited about?
I dream of the day when someone will discover a superconductor at room temperature and pressure. The impact of this discovery on the world will be incredible.