Richard R. Schrock

Richard R. Schrock bigraphy, stories - American chemist

Richard R. Schrock : biography

4 January 1945 –

Richard Royce Schrock (born 4 January 1945) is an American chemist and Nobel laureate recognized for his contributions to the olefin metathesis reaction used in organic chemistry.

Nobel Prize

In 2005, Schrock received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, with Robert H. Grubbs and Yves Chauvin, for his work in the area of olefin metathesis, an organic synthesis technique. Schrock was the first to elucidate the structure and mechanism of so-called ‘black box’ olefin metathesis catalysts. Initial work at DuPont involved the synthesis of tantalum alkylidenes, alkylidenes being a crucial resting state in the catalytic cycle of olefin metathesis. His work at MIT has led to a detailed understanding of a group of molybdenum alkylidenes and alkylidynes which are active olefin and alkyne methathesis catalysts, respectively. Schrock has done much work to demonstrate that metallacyclobutanes are the key intermediate in olefin metathesis, with metallacyclobutadienes being the key intermediate in alkyne methathesis.

Many supporting ligands have been explored in efforts to better understand the nature of the single molecule catalysts, most notably 2,6-diisopropylphenylimido and adamantylimido, as well as various tert-butyl alkoxides with varying degrees of fluorination. The prototypical Schrock catalyst is (R"O)2(R’N)Mo(CHR) where R = tert-butyl, R’ = 2,6-diisopropylphenyl, and R" = C(Me)(CF3)2. Such catalysts are now commercially available from such major suppliers as Sigma-Aldrich, and are used frequently in synthetic applications of olefin metathesis. Schrock’s work is ongoing with goals of furthering the understanding of metathesis selectivity, developing new catalyst architectures, as well as projects outside of metathesis, such as elucidating the mechanism of dinitrogen fixation and developing single molecule catalysts which form ammonia from dinitrogen, mimicking the activity of nitrogenase enzymes in biology.

Schrock carbenes are named after Schrock.


Born in Berne, Indiana, Schrock went to Mission Bay High School in San Diego, California. He holds a B.A. (1967) from the University of California, Riverside and a Ph. D. (1971) from Harvard University. At Harvard he studied under J.A. Osborn. In 1971–72, he carried out postdoctoral studies at the University of Cambridge with Lord Jack Lewis. In 1972, he was hired by DuPont, where he worked at the Experimental Station in Wilmington, Delaware in the group of George Parshall. He joined the faculty of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1975 and became full professor in 1980.

He has held his current post, the Frederick G. Keyes Professor of Chemistry, at MIT since 1989. Schrock is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, National Academy of Sciences and was elected to the Board of Overseers of Harvard University in 2007.

He is co-founder and member of the board of, a Swiss-based company focused on the development and application of proprietary metathesis catalyst.. Retrieved on 2013-01-04.

He married Nancy Carlson in 1971 and has two children, Andrew and Eric. Nancy Schrock is the Thomas F. Peterson, Jr. Conservator of Special Collections for the MIT Libraries. The family lives in Winchester, Massachusetts.

Awards and honours

  • ACS Award in Organometallic Chemistry (1985). Retrieved on 2013-01-04.
  • Harrison Howe Award of the Rochester ACS section (1990). Retrieved on 2013-01-04.
  • Alexander von Humboldt Award (1995). Retrieved on 2013-01-04.
  • ACS Award in Inorganic Chemistry (1996). Retrieved on 2013-01-04.
  • Bailar Medal from the University of Illinois (1998). Retrieved on 2013-01-04.
  • ACS Cope Scholar Award (2001). (2012-09-13). Retrieved on 2013-01-04.
  • Sir Geoffrey Wilkinson Lecturer and Medalist (2002). Retrieved on 2013-01-04.
  • Sir Edward Frankland Prize Lecturer (2004). Retrieved on 2013-01-04.
  • Nobel Prize in Chemistry (2005). Retrieved on 2013-01-04.
  • F. Albert Cotton Award in Synthetic Inorganic Chemistry (2006). (2012-05-14). Retrieved on 2013-01-04.
  • Theodore Richards Medal from the Northeast ACS section (2006).
  • August Wilhelm von Hofmann Medal from the German Chemical Society (2005)
  • Basolo Medal (2007). Retrieved on 2013-01-04.
  • Chemistry library at the University of Sussex named in his honour (2013)


  • Schrock, R. R. , Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), United States Department of Energy, (1982).
  • Schrock, R. R. , Department of Chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), United States Department of Energy, (1989).
  • Schrock, R. R. , Department of Chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), United States Department of Energy, (1992).
  • Schrock, R. R. , Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), United States Department of Energy, (December 1993).