The Charles Rees Award rewards excellence in the field of heterocyclic chemistry, covering the synthesis, properties and applications of all types of heterocyclic compounds.
The award is named after Charles Wayne Rees (1927-2006), a renowned synthetic chemist who devoted his career to heterocyclic chemistry. From 1992-94 he was President of the Royal Society of Chemistry.
Born in Cairo, Rees was educated in at Farnham Grammar School in Aldershot, and then worked as a laboratory technician at RAE Farnborough, studying for his higher school certificate at night school. He gained entrance to University College Southampton, and there he succeeded in obtaining a first class degree in chemistry.
His work included research into reactive intermediates, extended aromatic systems and sulfur-nitrogen heterocycles. Having first worked at Birkbeck University, Rees moved to King's College London in 1957, where he published a classic paper detailing a brilliantly conceived oxidation of a heterocyclic amine to generate a highly reactive species in 1965. Around this time he also produced a seminal paper describing novel method to produce benzyne, in collaboration with C. D. Campbell.
From King's College London, Rees then took his first professorship at Leicester in 1965, before moving to Liverpool and finally to Imperial College London, where he remained from 1978 until his retirement. In his later career, Rees focused on aromatic ring systems, discovering tricylic--annulenes and undertaking ground-breaking work on nitrogen- and sulfur-rich heterocycles.
Thoughout his career Rees published over 500 papers, and won several awards, receiving a CBE in 1995. He was heavily involved with the Royal Society of Chemistry, both as President of the Perkin Division and Chair of the Publication and Information Board, before becoming President in 1992.
The prize was established in 2008 through a generous bequest from the Rees family. Between 2010 and 2020, this prize was overseen by the RSC's Organic Division. The winner received a medal and certificate, and was invited to give a lecture at the RSC's Heterocyclic and Synthesis Group biennial meeting, held in Grasmere.
Going forwards, the prize will be administered by the RSC's Heterocyclic and Synthesis Group. More details will be available soon on the Heterocyclic and Synthesis Group's webpage.