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Stefan Grimme wins 2015 Leibniz prize for theoretical chemistry

Stefan Grimme from the University of Bonne has been awarded a Leibniz prize for his work in theoretical chemistry. His work focuses on the development and use of theoretical models and computer programs to calculate the spatial structure of molecules, their bonding characteristics and the distribution of electrons.

Grimme was one of eight researchers honoured for their work in various disciplines, from biological physics, ancient history, and modern German literature. The researchers were presented with the €2.5 million prize during an award ceremony in Berlin on 3 March.

The Leibniz Programme was originally established in 1985 by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation). The awards are aimed at improving the working conditions of scientists and academics, expanding their research opportunities.

Grimme was recognised for his work in theoretical chemistry, which focuses on development and application of quantum chemical methods to large (mainly molecular) systems, with a particular focus on method development.

This work ranges from the development of quantum chemistry methods to determine the absolute configuration of large molecules. The methods and programs developed by Grimme have quickly become a standard used all over the world, and not only in chemistry: biologists, materials scientists and synthesis researchers also benefit from the significant breadth of research he has published.

Prior to the decision of the prizewinners, DFG president professor Dr Peter Strohschneider spoke in detail in the Joint Committee about this year's selection round, in which only eight candidates were chosen for up to ten possible prizes.

‘The Leibniz Prize has always been awarded in response to nominations from the academic community and in line with the sole criterion of the very highest quality,’ he said. ‘There were some very good nominations again this year. But more so than in previous years, a small number of candidates stood out prominently from the rest, and only they fulfilled the very highest quality standards. After a great deal of discussion, it was decided that for the first time in the history of the Leibniz Prize, the full number of individual prizes would not be awarded.’

Grimme joins an illustrious group of chemists who have won the prize including at least two other from the University of Bonn. Frank Neese, who won the prize in 2010 and Sigrid D Peyerimhoff who won in 1989 both also worked at the University of Bonn and received the prize for theoretical chemistry.

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