Catalysis and its impact on our planet

A lecture by 2021 Chemistry Nobel laureate David MacMillan CorrFRSE on the development of asymmetric organocatalysis

David MacMillan wearing a blue shirt
David MacMillan CorrFRSE

The Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Scottish Parliament’s Cross-Party Group for Science and Technology have invited Professor David MacMillan CorrFRSE of Princeton University, the winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2021; to speak on his ground-breaking research in asymmetric organocatalysis. His work has significantly impacted pharmaceutical research and has made chemistry greener.

Professor MacMillan’s talk will discuss the advent and development of asymmetric organocatalysis (a method for accelerating chemical reactions and for creating specific types of molecules) which has taken place in his laboratory. As part of this overview, he will explore concepts of chemical reactivity, catalysis and the asymmetry of organic molecules. The impact of organocatalysis on modern synthetic chemistry and the real-world applications of this technology will also be explored, as well as the role it has played in developing a new field of research: visible light photoredox catalysis. His talk will conclude by considering how organocatalysis may continue to impact scientific research and society in the future.

The event will be chaired by Professor Sir John Ball, President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, with opening remarks from Clare Adamson MSP, Convener of the Cross-Party Group for Science and Technology.

COVID-19: The RSE will take precautions to ensure the safety of attendees in accordance with current regulations – more detailed information will follow.

Photo credit: Corinne Strauss Photography.


Professor David MacMillan is an organic chemist who conceptualised and pioneered the field of asymmetric organocatalysis. Current research in the MacMillan group is focused on the discovery and application of new modes of organocatalytic activation. Born in Bellshill Scotland, David received his undergraduate degree (BSc) from the University of Glasgow in 1991. He joined the Caltech faculty in 2000 and was appointed Earle C. Anthony Professor of Chemistry in 2004. In 2006, he moved to Princeton University, where he is currently the James McDonnell Distinguished University Professor of Chemistry. MacMillan has been elected a Fellow of the Royal Society and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

David MacMillan wearing a blue shirt


Wednesday April 13th, 2022 18:00-19:30


The Royal Society of Edinburgh



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