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09/23/2008 07:00:00

Caltech Researcher Awarded $10 Million Grant

PASADENA, Calif.-- Brian M. Stoltz, the Ethel Wilson Bowles and Robert Bowles Professor of Chemistry at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), has been awarded a $10 million grant from the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST).

Stoltz, whose work is focused on developing new strategies for the synthesis of complex molecules with interesting structural, biological, and physical properties that may lead to useful biological and medical applications, is one of 12 international scientists chosen to receive the award as part of the KAUST Global Research Partnership (GRP) Investigator competition. The GRP program is designed to fund research in areas of science and technology that are of particular importance to Saudi Arabia and the region, such as water desalination, renewable and sustainable next-generation energy sources, salt-tolerant plants, durable and environmentally friendly construction materials, and solar technology.

Each investigator was scrutinized by a panel of 14 world-renowned scientists, including Caltech's former provost Steven E. Koonin, chief scientist at British Petroleum, and evaluated based on their record of achievement to date and the relevance of their proposed research to the mission areas of KAUST, which include energy and environment; materials science and bioengineering; biosciences; and applied mathematics and computational science.

Stoltz was recognized for his efforts to discover and develop new oxidation reaction processes of potential utility for the chemical, polymer, and pharmaceutical industries. The new methods employ organometallic catalysts in conjunction with molecular oxygen, instead of the toxic metals that are normally used. These new catalytic reactions also provide avenues of reactivity that are simply unavailable using older techniques.

"Caltech is honored that KAUST and its committee of esteemed scientists selected Brian Stoltz after their extensive search for the world's most promising science and technology researchers," says Caltech president Jean-Lou Chameau. "This generous award will significantly advance Brian's efforts in chemical synthesis and nontoxic catalysts, and also reminds us of the global impact that our scientists are making with their research," adds Chameau.

"This is an enormous boost for our research program and my students and I couldn't be happier that the KAUST GRP has entrusted us with this honor," Stoltz says. "I am excited to work with KAUST and be a part of this very unique endeavor. It will be an exciting time here and at KAUST!"

Each investigator will spend at least three weeks per year on the KAUST campus in Saudi Arabia, participating in the research and academic life of the University.

KAUST is an international graduate-level research university, "dedicated to inspiring a new age of scientific achievement in the Kingdom, across the region and around the globe," being built on the Red Sea at Thuwal, approximately 50 miles north of Saudi Arabia's second-largest city, Jeddah. The 36-million-square-meter core campus is set to open in September 2009. For more information, visit http://www.kaust.edu.sa.

With an outstanding faculty, including five Nobel laureates, and such off-campus facilities as the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Palomar Observatory, and the W. M. Keck Observatory, the California Institute of Technology is one of the world's major research centers. Caltech offers instruction in science and engineering for a student body of approximately 900 undergraduates and 1,200 graduate students who maintain a high level of scholarship and intellectual achievement. Caltech is a private university in Pasadena, California. For more information, visit http://www.caltech.edu.

Written by Kathy Svitil