Prof. Dr. Sjoerd Harder receives Royal Society of Chemistry Award

Collage shows Prof. Harder and the text that states that he won the RSC award.
Image: RSC

Prestigious award for organometallic chemistry

Prof. Dr. Sjoerd Harder, Chair of Inorganic and Organometallic Chemistry at FAU, has received this year’s Main Group Chemistry Award of the British Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) for his pioneering contributions in the field of s-block metal chemistry, especially alkaline earth metal catalysis.

Dr. Helen Pain, acting chief executive of the Royal Society of Chemistry said:

“We live in an era of tremendous global challenges, with the need for science recognised now more so than ever – so it is important to recognise those behind the scenes who are making significant contributions towards improving the world we live in. It is our honour and privilege to do that with these awards, which recognise exceptional scientific achievement.

Professor Harder’s work focuses on organometallic chemistry, an area that combines organic molecules with metals. Organometallic compounds are so reactive that they burn away with contact in air – not just through oxygen, but some with nitrogen in air. This reactivity may seem dangerous, but it also opens up many possibilities, including applications in synthesizing new molecules or in catalysis.

Prof. Dr. Harder received his doctorate at the University of Utrecht, where he received the H. J. Backer Award from the Royal Dutch Society of Chemistry (KNCV) for the best dissertation in the field of organic chemistry in 1990. As an Alexander von Humboldt Fellow, Mr. Harder conducted research in 1991 in the working group of Prof. Dr. Paul von Ragué Schleyer at the Institute of Organic Chemistry of FAU. Research stays took Mr. Harder to the University of Berkeley, USA, and the University of Konstanz, where he received his habilitation in 1998. After professorships in Duisburg-Essen and Groningen, he took over the Chair of Inorganic and Metalorganic Chemistry at the Department of Chemistry and Pharmacy of FAU in 2012.

After receiving the award, Professor Harder said: “The Royal Society of Chemistry Main Group Chemistry Award means a lot to me. It is not just the field in which I work, it is also the area I have lost my heart to. If I look at the list of scientists that won the prize before me, I see many, many personal heroes – people that I sincerely admire for their contributions to main group chemistry. It is hard for me to believe that I am now part of this list and that makes this recognition extra special.”


Prof. Dr. Sjoerd Harder, PhD

Department of Chemistry and Pharmacy
Chair of Inorganic and Organometallic Chemistry (Prof. Dr. Harder)