The S F Boys-A Rahman Award was for outstanding innovative research in the area of computational chemistry, including both quantum chemistry and molecular simulations. This award was discontinued in 2020, as part of a series of changes introduced following an independent review of the Royal Society of Chemistry’s recognition programmes.
The award was named after two computational chemists: Samuel Francis Boys and Aneesur Rahman.
Samuel Francis Boys was born in Pudsey, UK, in 1911. Boys received his BSc at Imperial College London in 1932, followed by his PhD whilst working with Martin Lowry and John Lennard-Jones at the University of Cambridge, which focused on optical rotatory power. Boys spent a year in 1938 as Assistant Lecture in Mathematical Physics at Queen’s University Belfast before working in Woolwich at the Royal Arsenal on explosives and rocket fuels during the second World War. After the war Boys worked at Imperial College before lecturing in theoretical chemistry at the University of Cambridge in 1949.
Boys’ research focussed on quantum chemistry and he was most recognised for first using gaussian basis functions in electronic structure theory. He was also an early advocate for using electronic computers to calculate electronic structures in molecules. Boys was a fellow of the Royal Society and a member of the International Academy of Quantum Molecular Science.
Aneesur Rahman was born in Hyderabad, India, in 1927. After receiving his BSc in Mathematics at the Indian Academy of Sciences in Hyderabad, Rahman moved to Europe, where he studied Maths and Physics at the University of Cambridge and completed a PhD at Louvain University in Belgium in 1953. Rahman returned to India to teach physics at Osmania University, where he also published papers on the molecular structures of diatomic molecules, followed by a few years working and lecturing at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Bombay. In 1960 Rahman began a 25-year placement as a physicist at Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois, and then in 1985 he joined the University of Minnesota as a professor of physics and a fellow at the Supercomputer Institute in Minneapolis.
Rahman’s work centred on applying computational methods to physical systems, paving the way for computational physicists. Rahman also pioneered the field of molecular dynamics, which relies heavily on computational modelling. Rahman received the 1977 Irving Langmuir Prize from the American Physical Society, and the 2009 National Medal of Science from the President of the United States.
The SF Boys-A Rahman Award was established in 1990 through a donation of surplus funds from the 1987 International Conference on the Impact of Supercomputers on Chemistry. In 2021, the purposes of this Trust were amended, and remaining monies were combined with other generous bequest and donations to become part of the RSC Recognition Fund.