Nobel Prize laureate David MacMillan receives honorary doctorate

Faculty of Chemistry and Pharmacy honours pioneer of photocatalysis

David MacMillan receives an honorary doctorate from the Faculty of Chemistry and
David MacMillan receives an honorary doctorate from the Faculty of Chemistry and Pharmacy for his pioneering work in organic photoredox catalysis. © Corinne Strauss
He is one of the most successful researchers of our time in the field of catalysis and molecular chemistry: David MacMillan, a professor at Princeton University (USA), was awarded the Nobel Prize in 2021 together with his colleague Benjamin List for his work on asymmetric organocatalysis. The 56-year-old Scottish-born is also a pioneer of photocatalysis with visible light. In recognition of his outstanding research in this field, the Faculty of Chemistry and Pharmacy at the University of Münster has awarded him an honorary doctorate on 11 June.

"Through this research and his outstanding publications, he has inspired numerous scientists worldwide and made further breakthroughs possible," said Dean Prof Frank Glorius in his laudatory speech. Photocatalysis with visible light is probably the most important new reaction method of the past 20 years. "David MacMillan is one of the leading pioneers and, in my opinion, has even surpassed his Nobel Prize-winning development of iminium organocatalysis."

The award from the Faculty of Chemistry and Pharmacy is something special and a great honour, emphasised David MacMillan. The reason: "In organic catalysis, some of the worldwide superstars are working at the University of Münster."

Numerous research groups at the faculty are working on the use of visible light in photocatalysis, for example to improve the environmental compatibility of processes, but also to produce new products and control reactions with light. With the honorary doctorate, the Faculty of Chemistry and Pharmacy expresses its special appreciation of David MacMillan and would like to strengthen the contacts between the University of Münster and the Department of Chemistry at Princeton University.

Catalysis is used to initiate, accelerate or control chemical reactions. Photocatalysis, i.e. the use of light to promote chemical reactions, is intended to enable milder, more environmentally friendly reaction conditions. Visible light produces particularly few undesirable side reactions, in contrast to high-energy UV light.