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Cottrell Scholar William Dichtel is 2014 Fresenius Award Winner

Cottrell Scholar William Dichtel, Cornell University assistant professor of chemistry and chemical biology, has been designated as the 2014 National Fresenius Award recipient by the American Chemical Society.

Honoring a young scientist for outstanding achievement in the areas of research, teaching and/or administration, the Fresenius Award is sponsored by Phi Lambda Upsilon, the national chemistry honor society. The Fresenius Award is meant to promote high scholarship and original investigation in all branches of pure and applied chemistry. It is named in honor of Carl Remigius Fresenius, a 19th-century German pioneer of analytical chemistry.

RCSA named Dichtel a Cottrell Scholar in 2012. He credits the foundation with providing early support for his work, adding that as a Scholar, “I have become a part of a passionate community dedicated to both leading research and undergraduate education.”

Last year the ACS also recognized him with the Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award for pioneering the chemistry of covalent organic frameworks, which organize organic semiconductors into predictable two-dimensional layered networks ideal for photovoltaic performance.

Dichtel, who earned his Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley, in 2005, also uses synthetic and supramolecular chemistry to develop structurally precise organic materials. Projects in his laboratory involve organic and polymer chemistry, solution and solid-state characterization, nanofabrication and electronic testing of materials.

Meanwhile, Dichtel’s Cottrell Scholar education project involved making two major changes in Cornell’s chemistry curriculum. He is developing a new course in nanoscience that draws on existing concepts in organic, inorganic, physical and analytical chemistry. This task involved creating a new lecture course and an upper-division laboratory.

He has also played a key role in restructuring Cornell’s introductory and organic chemistry course material for advanced first- and second-year students.

“Cornell has a friendly and collaborative environment with superior infrastructure for materials chemistry research,” Dichtel says. “We attract outstanding graduate and undergraduate students, and my department is extremely supportive of its junior faculty.”

The nation’s most recent Fresenius honoree went to a small K-12 school -- his graduating class had 27 students -- in southwest Virginia. However, he adds, “My high school chemistry teacher had a Ph.D. in organic chemistry. He gave up his free period during my senior year to teach me organic chemistry one-on-one.

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