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Somorjai wins prestigious Spanish award for scientific achievement

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Gabor Somorjai
Gabor Somorjai

January 28, 2011

Chemistry professor Gabor Somorjai has been awarded Spain’s celebrated BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award. The award, sponsored by the scientific foundation of the Banco Bilbao Vizcata Argentaria, Spain’s second largest bank, includes an award of 400,000 Euros, or approximately $550,000.

Somorjai won the award in the basic sciences category, an area that spans chemistry, physics and mathematics. The award acknowledges Somorjai “for his pioneering experimental and conceptual contributions to the understanding of surface chemistry and catalysis at a microscopic and molecular level.”

He was notified by telephone on the morning of what would become a very long busy day, Wednesday, January 26. After fielding several inquires from journalists, he remained in his office at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) until 7:30 p.m. as he was videotaped for the Spanish media. After a few hours’ rest he was awakened at 1:00 a.m. for a two-hour telephone conference with nine Spanish reporters.

Somorjai credits his colleagues at UC Berkeley and LBNL for his success. “In an era when new energy research is critical, a deeper understanding of surface science and catalysis will help bring about the discoveries that will allow humankind to use energy more cleanly and efficiently,” says Somorjai. “I am grateful to my colleagues at UC Berkeley and LBNL, and I am deeply honored by the BBVA Foundation for their recognition and support of this important work.”

More Information

BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in the Basic Sciences

Somorjai Research Group

Somorjai Faculty webpage

A long journey to home (Catalyst magazine article, Fall '07 V. 2.2, pgs. 7-9)