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William Dichtel honored for pioneering work in polymers

Will Dichtel
Will Dichtel

EVANSTON - Northwestern University’s William Dichtel, an expert in organic and polymer chemistry, has received the 2018 Cottrell Frontiers in Research Excellence and Discovery (FRED) Award from the Research Corporation for Science Advancement (RCSA).

This relatively new award carries $250,000 in support, the foundation’s largest single-investigator award. It is given to one former Cottrell Scholar (RCSA’s early career award for research and teaching) each year.

A 2012 Cottrell Scholar, Dichtel is being recognized for his pioneering efforts to develop new methods to polymerize diverse monomers into ordered, two-dimensional polymers with unprecedented control of their covalent structure, crystallite size and shape, and higher-order assembly.

Dichtel is developing these porous polymers — known as covalent organic frameworks, or COFs — for applications to water purification, batteries and other energy storage. He is committed to bringing his discoveries out of the lab and into daily use.

“Cottrell FRED awards have a dual purpose,” said RCSA President and CEO Dan Linzer.  “While they reward creative Cottrell Scholars with vibrant programs of research, they point to the future by providing funds to initiate high-risk/high-reward projects that will potentially transform a research area.”

Dichtel is the Robert L. Letsinger Professor of Chemistry in Northwestern’s Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences.

His work has been recognized with national and international awards, including a 2015 MacArthur Fellowship, the Leo Hendrik Baekeland Award, the Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award, an Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award from the American Chemical Society, the Sloan Research Fellowship and a Beckman Young Investigator Award from the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation.

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