Texas A&M University at Qatar and Qatar Petrochemical Company (QAPCO) announced on 13 May that Dr. Robert H. Grubbs, Victor and Elizabeth Atkins Professor of Chemistry at the California Institute of Technology and Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, will hold the QAPCO Chair of Polymer Science and Engineering. Grubbs will hold the position of adjunct professor of chemistry at Texas A&M at Qatar under the agreement.
The announcement event was attended by VIP officials from Texas A&M at Qatar and QAPCO as well as His Excellency Dr. Mohammed Bin Saleh Al-Sada, minister of energy and industry. It follows the agreement signed between Texas A&M at Qatar and QAPCO on 29 April in which the corporation endowed a fund for the University to bring a Nobel Laureate to Qatar each year. The fund, comprising QR 274,000 annually, will provide for bringing the chair recipient to Qatar annually under the auspices of Texas A&M at Qatar.
On the occasion of launching the QAPCO Chair of Polymer Science and Engineering at Texas A&M at Qatar, His Excellency Dr. Al Sada welcomed the Nobel Laureate, saying, “I consider this initiative an important milestone for research and development, not only for academic research but also for the future of Qatar, especially its energy industry.”
Grubbs is a world-renowned scientist in the field of chemistry. His research involves design, synthesis and mechanistic studies of complexes that catalyze basic organic transformations. His recent focus has been on olefin metathesis reaction. To optimize the utility of this reaction, new catalysts have been developed that are extremely tolerant of organic functional groups. He has over 500 publications and over 115 patents based on his research.
In his acceptance speech, Grubbs said, “I look forward to interacting with the outstanding groups in Texas A&M at Qatar to further develop the applications of the olefin metathesis technology. The combination of petroleum technology through possible interactions with QAPCO and the basic science at Texas A&M at Qatar will lead to interesting new breakthroughs.”
Dr. Mohammed Yousef Al-Mulla, vice chairman and chief executive officer of QAPCO, said, “I am delighted that Professor Grubbs will be taking up the QAPCO Chair of Polymer Science and Engineering at Texas A&M at Qatar, and I am confident that he will contribute to and expand the scope of research and development in this important area. I believe the oil and gas industry in Qatar has a bright future, but we must continue to invest in it. Especially in research and development, we must continue to be innovative and focus on development of technology so that the industry remains sustainable and continues to be competitive.”
“This industrial-academic collaboration will, in my opinion, play a key role in achieving this sustainability and strengthen Qatar’s global competitiveness,” continued Al-Mulla. “That is why QAPCO invests heavily in research and development as a strategic choice. Through the Qatar Foundation National Priorities Research Program (NPRP), we collaborated with the Advanced Materials Center at Qatar University on plastics recycling and the use of polymers in Nano-composites and energy savings applications. This partnership also resulted in the creation of the QAPCO Polymer Chair at Qatar University. This partnership also extends to environmental research with the College of Engineering and collaboration with the Gas Processing Centre. With the creation of the QAPCO Chair of Polymer Science and Engineering at Texas A&M at Qatar, I firmly believe this will position QAPCO as a pioneer in industrial-academic collaboration and enable us to make a real different in the future of polymer science and engineering in Qatar.”
Dr. Mark H. Weichold, dean and CEO of Texas A&M at Qatar, added the agreement enables both organizations to partner in contributing to the State of Qatar’s development. “This agreement is an example of how Texas A&M at Qatar aims to work closely with industry corporations towards our mutual goal of benefiting and contributing to the State of Qatar,” he said. “We are grateful to QAPCO for their generous endowment of this fund and proud to partner with them in bringing a Nobel Laureate in the field of polymer science and engineering to Qatar.”
Dr. Hassan S. Bazzi, associate professor of chemistry and Science Program chair, concluded the event, saying, “Dr. Grubbs is one of the world’s most renowned scientists and one of the pioneers in the field of designing new catalytic systems. His Nobel prize in Chemistry in 2005 is an indication of the impact of his research accomplishments in the field of metathesis chemistry. Having him spend time performing research and teaching in Qatar is a great milestone in the superb evolution of higher education that the State of Qatar is witnessing.”