Peter J. Stang, dean of the University of Utah college of science and a noted chemistry researcher, has been named as winner of a national award given by American Chemical Society.
Stang is to receive the 2003 George A. Olah Award in Hydrocarbon or Research Chemistry, during the society's meeting later this month in New Orleans.
According to the society, the award consists of $5,000 plus travel expenses. Established in 1948, the prize is bestowed "to recognize, encourage, and stimulate outstanding research achievements in hydrocarbon or petroleum chemistry."
Stang told the Deseret News the studies for which he is honored involve fundamental studies in refining crude oil into gasoline and jet fuel.
Besides his duties as dean, Stang continues to carry out research. "I jealously guard my research, because research is my first love," he said.
According to a news release from the society, one of Stang's early accomplishments was in 1969, when he and his team reported making molecules called vinyl carbocations. These are unstable structures that molecules pass through as they change from raw materials to final products.
This state lasts only for a fraction of a second. But the shape, electrical properties and other properties during that period "help determine what form a reaction's products will assume," says the statement.
Stang was at the forefront of revealing the three-dimensional chemistry of vinyl carbocations, it adds.
His recent work involves self-assembling molecules, that is, molecules that build themselves up from a mixture of pre-designed building blocks, says the organization.
"In 1999 . . . Stang announced a cage-like structure assembled from 50 customized pieces. The compound mimics many properties of zeolites, minerals used in petroleum refining, and has the potential to redefine the industry," the society adds.
The prize, named after a chemist who won the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1964, is sponsored by the George A. Olah Endowment.