George A. Olah, Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and holder of the Donald P. and Katherine B. Loker Chair in Organic Chemistry at the University of Southern California, is the winner of the American Chemical Society's Richard C. Tolman Medal.

The award honors those who have made outstanding contributions in chemistry and have accomplished a major portion of their work while living in Southern California. Olah will receive the medal and a citation on March 20.

Olah, 64, is the discoverer of superacids, which are billions of times more potent than "strong" acids such as sulfuric acid. He and colleagues have shown that in extremely strong acidic solutions, normally unreactive molecules like hydrocarbons can become reactive (Journal of the American Chemical Society, 90:2726, 1968; 91:2929, 1969; 91:3261, 1969). Such reactions could be used to convert simple hydrocarbons such as methane into synthetic fuels--thus potentially leading to a reduced reliance on fossil...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to digital editions of The Scientist, as well as TS Digest, feature stories, more than 35 years of archives, and much more!