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UIC Chemist Recognized for Pioneering Iodine Research

Aug 24, 2004
UIC Chemist Recognized for Pioneering Iodine Research

Robert Moriarty, emeritus professor of chemistry at the University of Illinois at Chicago, will be honored by the American Chemical Society for more than 20 years of pioneering research in the field of iodine chemistry. His work has led to environmentally safe methods of chemical production now used in manufacturing worldwide.

Moriarty was named the 2005 recipient of the ACS Award for Creative Research and Applications of Iodine Chemistry. His award, announced in this week's issue of Chemical and Engineering News, will be presented March 15, 2005 in conjunction with the 229th ACS National Meeting in San Diego, Calif. The award includes a $10,000 prize.

The biennial award was established in 2003 and is funded by the Santiago-based chemical company SQM S.A. (Sociedad Química y Minera de Chile). Moriarty is the first recipient of the award.

Moriarty is credited for discovering that organic iodides – derivatives of familiar household iodine – can be used as reagents in a wide range of chemical reactions with little or no toxic after-effects. The discovery has prompted a growing number of manufacturers to use iodides in non-toxic, environmentally friendly large-scale production of chemical products.

In addition to his discovery of the reagents, he has also carried out landmark studies to understand how they work.

Numerous publications by Moriarty on the subject, coupled with advanced research by his graduate students, postdoctoral workers and collaborating professors since the early 1980s, have helped establish the field Moriarty calls organic synthesis using organic iodides.

"Moriarty's primary papers have been cited almost 2,000 times and, naturally, his reviews hundreds of times more. His work has had a major impact on methodology in organic synthesis as well as relevant areas of inorganic chemistry such as lead, thallium, mercury and chromium," said Donald Wink, professor and head of the chemistry department at UIC.

Moriarty said the environmentally friendly aspect of this synthesis process is particularly important as the worldwide demand for new chemical products grows, yet at the same time concern, awareness and calls for controlling toxic byproducts of chemical production heightens.

"Modern organic chemistry calls this type of work 'green chemistry' because of its benign environmental aspects," he said. "Organic iodides represent one of the best examples of green chemistry."

Moriarty has been on the UIC faculty since 1968 and became a professor emeritus in 2002. He continues to do research at his UIC laboratory.

In addition to teaching at UIC, Moriarty has held visiting professor appointments at, among other institutions, the University of Strasbourg, the University of Geneva and the University of Marseille. 

Contact: 

Paul Francuch, (312) 996-3457, francuch@uic.edu

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