Professor William Dichtel, a 2015 MacArthur Fellow, will present his research on advances in covalent organic frameworks as part of the Virginia Tech Department of Chemistry Highlands seminar series at 2:30 p.m,. Friday, Oct. 7, at 140 Hahn Hall North.  

The Robert L. Letsinger Professor of Chemistry at Northwestern University, Dichtel's research uses the tools of synthetic and supramolecular chemistry to address fundamental challenges in the assembly and integration of nanostructured materials. His pioneering research of covalent organic frameworks was the basis for the MacArthur award given to him by the MacArthur Foundation. His scientific research papers have appeared in Science, Nature Chemistry, and the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

The Highlands series is a weekly event hosted by the Department of Chemistry, part of the College of Science. Now in its 50th year, the series was started by Alan Clifford, who was appointed chemistry department head in 1966. He named the series Highlands in Chemistry, reflecting the geographic location of Virginia Tech and a wish to reach out to the best scientists. All talks are held at 140 Hahn Hall North.

Covalent organic frameworks are a class of porous polymers designed to assemble into much larger two-dimensional arrays or three-dimensional structures exhibiting extremely high surface areas, such that one gram of material can have the surface area of a football field. Dichtel’s laboratory focuses on translating these new discoveries into practical materials to solve energy and environmenalt challenges, such as hydrogen fuel storage, capturing carbon dioxide, water purification, and electric charge storage.

“The Dichtel laboratory has made great strides in designing and developing new, robust covalent organic frameworks that are under development in these important areas,” said Amanda Morris, an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry.

Born in Houston, Texas, Dichtel was raised in Roanoke, Virginia, and attended North Cross High School before earning a bachelor’s of science in chemistry from MIT in 2000 and a doctoral degree in organic polymer chemistry at the University of California Berkeley in 2005. He later studied with Professor Jean Frechet. Dichtel then spent two years as a postdoctoral fellow with a joint appointment at the University of California Los Angeles and California Institute of Technology, before joining Cornell University’s Department of Chemistry as an assistant professor in 2008. He joined Northwestern University in 2016.

Dichtel has attributed his passion for chemistry to his high school teacher and mentor, Jerry Maycock, who will attend the lecture.

Dichtel also has been honored with many other distinctions, including the National Fresenius Award from the Phi Lambda Upsilon National Chemistry Honor Society, the Polymer International – IUPAC Award for  Creativity in Applied Polymer Science, 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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