Willard Gibbs Award

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The Willard Gibbs Award was founded in 1910 by William A. Converse (1862-1940), a former Chairman and Secretary of the Chicago Section of the American Chemical Society. The medal was named for Professor Josiah Willard Gibbs (1839-1903) of Yale University. Gibbs, whose formulation of the Phase Rule founded a new science, is considered by many to be the only American-born scientist whose discoveries are as fundamental in nature as those of Newton and Galileo.

The purpose of the award is "To publicly recognize eminent chemists who, through years of application and devotion, have brought to the world developments that enable everyone to live more comfortably and to understand this world better." Medalists are selected by a national jury of eminent chemists from different disciplines. The nominee must be a chemist who, because of the preeminence of his work in and contribution to pure or applied chemistry, is deemed worthy of special recognition.

The award consists of an eighteen-carat gold medal having, on one side, the bust of J. Willard Gibbs, for whom the medal was named. On the reverse is a laurel wreath and an inscription containing the recipient's name.

Given annually for over one hundred years, the recipients span three-quarters of a century of chemistry. Most of the names are familiar to chemists regardless of specialty. This fame may result from later recognition, including, in many cases, the Nobel Prize, or the reason may be that textbooks have permanently associated many of these names with classic reactions or theories.

Mr. Converse supported the award personally for a number of years, and then established a fund for it in 1934 that has subsequently been augmented by the Dearborn Division of W. R. Grace & Co. When Betz purchased the Dearborn/Grace division, the BetzDearborn Foundation had most generously continued the historic relationship between the Section and Dearborn. J. Fred Wilkes and his wife have also made considerable contributions to the award. However, since General Electric purchased Betz/Dearborn these companies are no longer contributing to the Willard Gibbs Medal Fund. Anyone wishing to contribute to this award should contact the Chicago Section of the ACS.

List of winners[edit]

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