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Academic shares €10,000 prize

Tuesday 13 December 2016

cole-hamilton-mainbodyA researcher from the University of St Andrews has been awarded the prestigious Alwin-Mittasch Prize.

Emeritus Professor of Chemistry, David Cole-Hamilton FRSE, will be honoured at the 50th anniversary meeting of the German Catalysis Society in Germany in March next year.

The Alwin Mittasch Prize, sponsored by BASF SE, is awarded for outstanding research in catalysis which has not only contributed towards extending the fundamentals of catalysis but also its application in industry. The award for 2017 is shared with Professor Xinhe Bao from the Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Catalysis is a process by which chemistry can be done more cleanly, using less energy and produce less, or in some cases no, harmful by-products. Much of the work undertaken by Professor Cole-Hamilton has involved collaboration with oil companies, acrylic manufacturers and synthetic fuel developers, including South African firm, Sasol. Sasol, a petrochemical company, opened a research lab at the University of St Andrews in 2001 to take advantage of the expertise of academics studying catalysis. Such partnerships have led to the cleaner and cheaper production of household products like soap and detergents, as well as plastics like Perspex.

Speaking on the award, Professor Cole-Hamilton said: “It is the most significant prize for catalysis given in Germany. I am totally overwhelmed to receive this prize. I am extremely flattered by this honour being bestowed upon me.”

Head of the School of Chemistry, Professor David O’Hagan, noted: “This is a particularly high level prize, and it is significant that it has been won by a non-German. We are delighted for David.

“The award speaks to the importance of his research and its application in the real world. More broadly it underpins that the research conducted here in the School of Chemistry is world leading. The School (as EaStCHEM) was ranked top in Scotland during the last Research Excellence Framework exercise and this is further evidence that our academics are truly outstanding in their fields.”

Notes to news editors

Professor David Cole-Hamilton will be honoured at the 50th anniversary meeting of the German Catalysis Society in Weimar, Germany, on 16 March 2017 and will deliver an address to the meeting on the morning of 17 March.

Professor David Cole-Hamilton received his BSc (1971) and PhD (1975) from Edinburgh University before moving to London as a Postdoctoral Fellow and Lecturer at Imperial College. He later moved to the University of Liverpool as a Lecturer and then Senior Lecturer, before his appointment as Irvine Professor of Chemistry at the University of St Andrews in 1985. Cole-Hamilton was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry in 1986 and as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1988 and has previously served on the Council of the Royal Society of Chemistry. He is currently President of the European Association for Chemical and Molecular Sciences and sits on the Royal Society of Edinburgh Education Committee.

EaStCHEM, the joint chemistry research School of the Universities of Edinburgh and St Andrews, was conceived in 2003 with the aim of harnessing the complementary capabilities and capitalising on the synergies of Scotland’s two leading Chemistry Departments. EaStCHEM’s key aim is for excellence in both core and interdisciplinary research, through the generation of a physical and intellectual environment that rivals the best in the world. 

The Alwin Mittasch Prize is an international prize awarded for outstanding work that has contributed towards extending the fundamentals of catalysis and its exemplary application in industry. The award originated as the Alwin Mittasch Medal for catalysis research in Europe founded by BASF AG in 1990. The prize, which is no longer confined to Europe, comprises a gold medal, a certificate, and a €10.000 cash award. It is sponsored by BASF SE and is awarded every three years. The prize winner is selected by an expert panel with members from both academia and industry.

Issued by the Press Office, University of St Andrews. Contact 01334 462530 or email