The highest honor in the chemistry field

By Deserae E. del Campo

The highest honor in the chemistry field

By Deserae E. del Campo
Chemistry professor recognized for exceptional academic research with the acclaimed George S. Hammond Award

Given by the Inter-American Photochemical Society in honor of the acclaimed scientist George S. Hammond for his role in the development of modern photochemical sciences, this year’s honoree of the 2022 George S. Hammond Award was presented to University of Miami College of Arts & Sciences Chemistry Professor Vaidhyanathan Ramamurthy (Murthy).

Honorees for the Hammond Award are recognized for their "lifelong achievements in, and contributions to, the photochemical sciences.” Professor Ramamurthy was awarded the honor for his acclaimed research in organic photophysics and photochemistry and his contributions to the development of supramolecular photochemistry.

Murthy"It is a true honor to be recognized by the Inter-American Photochemical Society with their highest award named after George S. Hammond, a true pioneer of photochemistry and physical organic chemistry,” said Ramamurthy. “Every STEM undergraduate student knows his name through ‘Hammond postulate,’ and all photochemists respect him for his varied contributions that built the photochemical science. I have benefitted immensely through personal association with Hammond and mentoring by two of his stellar students.”

Ramamurthy is a highly cited and respected photochemist. He has produced over 430 publications in his field of study and has been cited in research more than 20,000 times. Along with his extensive number of research publications, he has also contributed to educating future generations of photochemists around the world through his co-edited monographs and textbooks, as well as virtual lectures on varied topics in photochemistry.

He received his undergraduate degree in chemistry at the University of Madras, India, and his master’s in chemistry at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. Ramamurthy went on to earn his Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Hawaii and completed research training at the University of Western Ontario and Columbia University before returning to India to start his academic career at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. 

Ramamurthy held numerous appointments as a visiting professor in academic institutions around the world and was the Department Chair for both the College of Arts & Sciences and Tulane University. He has been recognized by numerous chemistry societies such as the American Chemical Society, the Chemical Research Society of India, the Japanese Photochemical Society, the Chinese Chemical Society, and the European Photochemical Society. He also serves as executive editor of Langmuir (American Chemical Society publication) since 2008. 

“In terms of science, my group has been interested in manipulating the behavior of molecules through light, space, and time,” said Ramamurthy. “For the sake of students who have done the work that led to this award, I must mention that our work in photochemistry in confined spaces is well appreciated by the community, for which I am thankful. Our work has direct relevance in several areas bordering energy, lithography, medicine, and understanding events that involve light (e.g., vision). Normally, I don’t get excited about awards, but this one is special because of the Hammond name.”   

Recognizing the award as a lifetime achievement, Ramamurthy points out that it is not easy to stay focused and remain motivated after almost 50 years of conducting research in this field. He credits his successes to the institutions that supported him, as well as his teachers and colleagues in the photochemical community who showed that one can enjoy and lead a purposeful and exciting life simply by interrogating “photon” reactions. He would also like to thank his family for understanding the importance of his work and allowing him to spend hours at the University away from home.




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