This prize was established in 1999 as a result of generous endowments from publishers, chemical industry and students and colleagues, to recognise the life of and numerous scientific contributions made by Sir Geoffrey Wilkinson. The prize was formerly known as the Sir Geoffrey Wilkinson Lectureship.
Sir Geoffrey Wilkinson graduated from Imperial College, London in 1941. He went on to work in the chemistry field in Montreal, Berkeley (CA), Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University until he returned to England in 1955. He was appointed chair of Inorganic Chemistry at Imperial College London, where he worked on the complexes of transition metals.
Well known for Wilkinson's catalyst, used in the hydrogenation of alkenes and for discovering the structure of ferrocene, he was also awarded a Nobel Prize for Chemistry for his work on organometallic compounds in 1973. He died in 1996, aged 75.
In 2020, following an independent review of the Royal Society of Chemistry's recognition programmes, the scope of this prize evolved to recognise contributions to any area of inorganic chemistry made by a mid-career scientist.