UNESCO-Russia Mendeleev International Prize Announced

In a momentous ceremony at the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow on December 13, 2023, Professors Irina Beletskaya from the Russian Federation and Klaus Alexander Müllen from Germany will be honored with the UNESCO-Russia Mendeleev International Prize in the Basic Sciences. This distinguished award recognizes their exceptional contributions to the world of chemistry and science as a whole.

Each laureate will receive a remarkable prize: a monetary award of US $250,000 (equivalent to approximately INR 2.08 Crore), a gold medal, and a diploma. This recognition is a testament to their groundbreaking work in the field of chemical sciences. Now, let’s delve into the remarkable achievements of these two trailblazing scientists.

Klaus Alexander Müllen: Bridging Science and Society

Professor Müllen, an Emeritus Director at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, stands out not only for his groundbreaking research in fundamental chemical and polymer material sciences but also for his tireless efforts to bridge the gap between science and society. He possesses a unique ability to engage not only with the scientific community but also with the public and policymakers.

Müllen’s captivating lecture, titled ‘Is the Future Black?,’ explores the intersection of technological challenges and the significance of ‘black or transparent’ carbon materials. He optimistically discusses how these materials could address future societal needs. His work extends beyond the laboratory, advocating for the importance of science in ensuring human well-being.

His research group’s focus on designing novel conjugated molecules has led to applications in integrated circuits and has paved the way for advancements in computation, sensing, and cryptography. Müllen’s work highlights the versatility of carbon-based materials, showcasing their potential in diverse fields, from energy technologies to biomedical applications.

Irina Beletskaya: Revolutionizing Organic Chemistry

Heading the Laboratory of Organoelement Chemistry at Moscow State University, Professor Irina Beletskaya has left an indelible mark on modern chemistry. Her significant contribution in 1995, alongside other esteemed chemists, involved the discovery of a novel method for synthesizing carbon–nitrogen bonds. This breakthrough has significantly facilitated the synthesis of organic molecules crucial for bioactive compounds and drugs.

Moreover, Professor Beletskaya has been a trailblazer in demonstrating the utility of rare earth elements in organic chemistry, particularly in catalyzing essential processes in industries such as agrifood, petrochemicals, and pharmaceuticals. Her work with organolanthanides has paved the way for the synthesis of innovative products, including adhesives, coatings, and sealants.

Beyond her groundbreaking scientific contributions, Beletskaya’s leadership extends to the editorial realm as the Editor-in-Chief of the Russian Journal of Organic Chemistry. Her dedication to science education, international cooperation, and the development of sustainable, green chemistry sets her apart as a holistic and visionary scientist.

The Significance of the UNESCO-Russia Mendeleev International Prize

The prestigious prize, named after the father of the Periodic Table, Dmitri Ivanovich Mendeleev, is a testament to the enduring impact of scientific innovation. Established in 2019 during the International Year of the Periodic Table, the prize celebrates the 150th anniversary of Mendeleev’s groundbreaking work.

Professors Beletskaya and Müllen were carefully selected by an international jury for their outstanding scientific achievements and their commitment to science education, international collaboration, and sustainable development. Their work exemplifies the spirit of Mendeleev’s legacy, propelling the boundaries of knowledge and contributing to the betterment of humanity.

Inspiring Future Generations

The achievements of Professors Irina Beletskaya and Klaus Alexander Müllen serve as an inspiration for children, parents, and educators alike. Their groundbreaking research not only expands the frontiers of scientific knowledge but also emphasizes the crucial role of science in addressing global challenges.

For children with a budding interest in science, these laureates demonstrate the endless possibilities within the realm of chemistry. Parents and educators can utilize their stories to ignite curiosity, showcasing the real-world impact of scientific exploration and the potential for positive change.

As we celebrate the accomplishments of these scientific pioneers, let us collectively look toward a future where the spirit of discovery continues to thrive, inspiring generations to come. The UNESCO-Russia Mendeleev International Prize stands as a beacon, honouring those who lead the way in advancing the frontiers of human knowledge and contributing to a brighter, more sustainable world.

Credits: UNESCO News

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