American Chemical Society awards its highest honor to Tobin Marks, Ph.D.

WASHINGTON, June 16, 2016 — The American Chemical Society (ACS) has announced that Tobin J. Marks, Ph.D. — professor of chemistry, professor of materials science and engineering, Vladimir N. Ipatieff Professor of Catalytic Chemistry and professor of applied physics at Northwestern University — will receive the 2017 Priestley Medal from ACS. It is the highest honor bestowed by the world’s largest scientific society.

ACS is honoring Marks for his “dedicated service to the chemistry enterprise, and pioneering research in catalytic polymerization, organometallic chemistry, organic opto-electronic materials and electronically functional metal oxides."

“Tobin Marks is an excellent choice to receive the Priestley Medal. With more than 1,00 journal articles and more than 230 patents to his credit, Tobin is a true pioneer in chemistry,” says ACS Executive Director and CEO Thomas Connelly Jr., Ph.D. “Through his research, as well as his service as a journal editor, mentor and colleague, he has influenced and inspired countless students and chemists throughout his career. He truly embodies the achievements of a Priestley Medalist.”

Throughout his 50-year career, Marks has made major contributions in the field of material chemical science — specifically catalysis, electronic materials and organometallic chemistry. He has created plastics, catalysts, solar cells, printable transistors, and OLEDs that are faster, more energy efficient and more versatile. He has partnered with Dow Chemical to develop world-scale polymerization processes and has co-founded the start-up Polyera Corp. to produce printed electronics.

Marks’ landmark research is documented in 1,195 publications and 232 U.S. patents. He has mentored and trained many graduate students, and he has tirelessly served ACS and international science societies.

“Few practicing scientists have more effectively bridged homogeneous and heterogeneous catalytic sciences, demonstrating exceptional originality, breadth and insights than Tobin Marks,” says University of California, Berkeley, chemistry professor Gabor A. Somorjai, who nominated Marks for the award. “His contributions are broad: producing new processes through chemical innovation, mentoring students and promoting the chemistry community.”

Marks has received numerous awards for his research, including the U.S. National Medal of Science, the National Academy of Sciences Award in Chemical Sciences and the Dreyfus Prize in the Chemical Sciences, as well as the ACS Award in Organometallic Chemistry, the ACS Award in Inorganic Chemistry, the ACS Award in the Chemistry of Materials, the ACS Award for Distinguished Service in the Advancement of Inorganic Chemistry, the ACS Somorjai Award for Creative Research in Catalysis, the ACS Arthur Cope Senior Scholar Award in Organic Chemistry, the William H. Nichols Medal and a number of other awards from ACS local sections.

Since 1923, ACS has recognized groundbreaking chemists with the Priestley Medal. The annual award includes a gold medallion designed to commemorate the work of Joseph Priestley, who lived from 1733 to 1804, and is best remembered for his 1774 discovery of the gas that would later be named “oxygen.”


The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With nearly 157,000 members, ACS is the world’s largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

To automatically receive news releases from the American Chemical Society, contact

Media Contact

Michael Bernstein

Katie Cottingham, Ph.D.


Tobin J. Marks, Ph.D.
Tobin J. Marks, Ph.D.
Credit: Sam Levitan
High-resolution image