Chemistry Professor Ron Caple has been named winner of the UMD Chancellor's Award for Distinguished Research for 2001-2002. Presentation of the award will take place at a public ceremony on the UMD campus on Wednesday, May 1, at 3:15 p.m. in the Chemistry Building, room 200.
Following formal presentation of the award, Professor Caple will present a seminar on organic synthesis and his research collaborations in Russia, Vietnam and Cuba titled "Organic Synthesis: The Science Behind the Art". The talk will include slides and stories presented as a layperson's overview of Professor Caple's 36 years of research . In his talk, he hopes to leave the audience with "an appreciation of the importance and beauty of this relatively new field of chemistry," and an understanding of his unique contributions to this area. Professor Caple will explain how the Soviet connection led to active UMD exchanges during the past seven years with Hanoi, Vietnam, and Pinar del Rio, Cuba. A public reception will follow the lecture at 4:30 p.m. in the Griggs Center in the UMD Kirby Student Center.
Professor Caple and William Smit of the Zelinsky Institute of Organic Chemistry, Russian Academy of Science, Moscow, Russia, have been collaborating in research since 1974. The Zelinsky Institute was the premier research institute of organic chemistry in the Soviet Union. The common research interest between Dr. Caple and William Smit was the study of addition reactions in synthetic organic chemistry. Their cooperative research efforts led to the development of the successful concept of utilizing stepwise electrophilic additions for the construction of complex organic structures. They estimate that over 1000 new compounds have been synthesized by their research groups. Their investigations are internationally recognized with numerous publications and plenary lectures. In 1994, they were invited to publish an extensive summary of their work in "Chemical Reviews," one of the most prestigious publications of the American Chemical Society. The research pair were acknowledged by the National Science Foundation in 1990 for having been the only viable scientific exchange program between the United States and the Soviet Union during the 1980s. They received one of the initial grants from the National Science Foundation for research collaboration after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
A distinguished scholar in the field of organic synthesis, Professor Caple first came to UMD as an assistant professor in 1965. He became an associate professor in 1969 and a full professor in 1973. He has an impressive publication record and has received substantial grant funding in support of his research. Dr. Caple received the UMD Outstanding Teacher award in 1968 and 1978. He won the University of Minnesota's highest teaching award, the Horace T. Morse-University of Minnesota Alumni Undergraduate Education Award in 1970. He mentored the first student in the UMD chemistry Master's program in 1965 and he has mentored at least one undergraduate student in his lab every year since.