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Awards and Recognition | Argonne National Laboratory

Argonne chemist receives Royal Society of Chemistry medal

Stephen Klippenstein to receive the 2020 Polanyi Medal

The Royal Society of Chemistry has announced that Stephen Klippenstein from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory will be receiving the 2020 Polanyi Medal. Klippenstein is a theoretical chemist and Argonne Distinguished Fellow in the Chemical Sciences and Engineering (CSE) division.

The Polanyi Medal is granted once every two years. Selected by the Committee of the Royal Society of Chemistry for the Gas Kinetics Discussion Group, recipients have demonstrated outstanding contributions to the field of gas kinetics. The Royal Society named the award after Michael Polanyi (1891-1976), whose research was instrumental in establishing the modern scientific fields of gas kinetics and reaction dynamics.

Stephen has made many outstanding contributions to the field of reaction kinetics, so the award was overdue.” — Christa Fittschen, a research director at the Centre national de la recherché scientifique (CNRS), University of Lille, France

Stephen Klippenstein has been on the short list for this award for many years,” said Christa Fittschen, chair of the award committee and a research director at the Centre national de la recherché scientifique (CNRS), University of Lille, France. Stephen has made many outstanding contributions to the field of reaction kinetics, so the award was overdue.”

Klippenstein commented, The award is really for my career of research in theoretical chemical kinetics.”  This research involves calculating the rates at which reactions convert molecules from one species to another under many different conditions. These conditions span the gamut from the temperatures near absolute zero in interstellar space, to the moderate temperatures of planetary atmospheres, to the very high temperatures and pressures of combustion.

Klippenstein’s results have improved understanding of engine combustion, formation of atmospheric pollutants, the interstellar origin of life, the combustion of propellants such as explosives and rockets, and the atmospheric chemistry of Titan, a planet of Saturn. Recently, Klippenstein has begun automating his computational procedures to utilize the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility, a national scientific user facility that provides supercomputing resources and expertise to the scientific and engineering community to accelerate the pace of discovery and innovation in a broad range of disciplines.

In 2018, Stephen received the Yakov B. Zeldovich Gold Medal from the Combustion Institute, and in 2020, he will be receiving the Polanyi Medal, both of which are only bestowed every two years,” said Stephen Pratt, also an Argonne Distinguished Fellow in the CSE division. These awards reflect the major impact he has had on theoretical chemistry.”

Klippenstein will receive the Polanyi Medal and be giving the keynote lecture at the 26th International Symposium on Gas Kinetics and Related Phenomenon to be held in Karlsruhe, Germany, Sept. 6-10, 2020.

Klippenstein’s research is currently funded by the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Basic Energy Sciences through the Gas Phase Chemical Physics program, the DOE’s Advanced Scientific Computing Research program as part of the Exascale Computational Project, and the Department of Defense’s Army Research Office as part of the Molecular Structure and Dynamics program.

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