The first annual Hawthorne Award, named after boron research pioneer and former UCLA chemistry professor M. Frederick Hawthorne, has been awarded by the American Chemical Society.

The inaugural recipient was Karl Christe, an inorganic chemistry professor at the University of Southern California. Christe is recognized for his seminal contributions to the area of main group high energy density materials involving fluorine and polycatenated nitrogen-based compounds and will present the Hawthorne Award address at the 2021 Spring ACS meeting.

The idea for the award was formulated in 2017 by several former Hawthorne group members including professors Alex Spokoyny of UCLA, William Evans of UC Irvine, Omar Farha of Northwestern and R. Tom Baker of the University of Ottawa, at the New Orleans American Chemical Society meeting. The group petitioned the society to establish the award that would permanently honor Hawthorne’s legacy and expand the ACS inorganic chemistry awards portfolio which historically emphasized work with transition metals and partially overlooked achievements in main group chemistry.

The Hawthorne Award will help honor the advancements in science in the rest of the periodic table and has a stipulation that it is only given to researchers who make significant contributions to chemistry involving the elements of groups 1, 2, and 13-18, with special consideration given to demonstrated creativity and independence of thought, in keeping with the example provided by Hawthorne.

Hawthorne received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Pomona College where he conducted research with Corwin Hansch. He pursued his Ph.D. in organic chemistry at UCLA working with Nobel Laureate Donald Cram. He conducted postdoctoral research at Iowa State University before joining the Redstone Arsenal Research Division of the Rohm and Haas Company in Huntsville, Alabama. At the Redstone Arsenal, Hawthorne pioneered the synthetic chemistry of boron hydrides. In 1962, he moved to UC Riverside as professor of chemistry. He transferred to UCLA in 1969. In 1998, Hawthorne was appointed University Professor of Chemistry at UCLA, the most distinguished title bestowed upon faculty by the University of California Regents.

Over the course of his career Hawthorne received numerous awards and recognitions for his contributions and service to the chemistry community including American Chemical Society’s Priestley Medal, King Faisal International Prize and National Medal of Science from President Barack Obama.