SCI Perkin Medal

The SCI Perkin Medal is recognized as one of the highest honors given for outstanding work in applied chemistry in the United States.

It commemorates the discovery of the first synthetic dye (Perkin mauve) by Sir William Henry Perkin in 1856. This discovery was a significant step forward in organic chemistry that led to the birth of a major segment of the chemical industry.

The Perkin Medal was first awarded to Sir William at a banquet in New York in 1906. The room was festooned with banners dyed a brilliant Perkin mauve, a piece of which is on display in our museum. Today the award is presented as part of Innovation Day, a daylong collaborative research conference cohosted by the Society of Chemical Industry and the Science History Institute.

This year’s SCI Perkin Medal was presented to Nobel laureate Frances Arnold during a ceremony at the Ritz-Carlton in Philadelphia on September 12, 2023.

2024 Medalist: Max McDaniel

Max McDaniel, smiling, beard, wearing suit and tie
Max McDaniel.

Max McDaniel is a senior fellow scientist at Chevron Phillips Chemical, where he has been responsible for significant advances in catalyst technologies for the polymerization and trimerization of ethylene, to produce high performance polyethylene and 1-hexene. In 2024 he was awarded his 500th U.S. patent.

Leading a small group of researchers for 40 years, he invented and commercialized numerous new chromium and metallocene based catalyst technologies which have been adopted by dozens of polyethylene manufacturing plants throughout the world. Notably, he was the first scientist to investigate the ability of chromium catalysts to impart long chain branching (LCB) in polyethylene, and the important role that the catalyst physical structure plays in that process.

McDaniel devised catalysts to simultaneously produce comonomer and copolymer. LCB controls nearly every aspect of polymer processing and molding behavior. His discoveries led to the manipulation and development of many diverse polyethylene grades with both improved properties and processability.

McDaniel received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Southern Illinois University and received his doctorate in physical chemistry from Northwestern University. After receiving his doctorate, he continued research as a chercheur associé at the Institut de Recherches sur la Catalyse et l’Environnement (IRCELYON) in Lyon, France.

Winners of the SCI Perkin Medal

The SCI Perkin Medal has been presented since 1906, when the very first award went to Sir William Henry Perkin. For a full list of winners visit SCI’s website.

About the Society of Chemical Industry

SCI is a unique multidisciplinary forum where science meets business on independent, impartial ground. SCI provides the opportunity for sharing information among sectors as diverse as food and agriculture, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, environmental science, and safety.

Established in 1881 as the Society of Chemical Industry, SCI is today a registered charity with individual members in over 70 countries. Its headquarters are in London.

Ever since its foundation SCI’s principal objective has been to further the application of chemistry and related sciences for the public benefit, through our events and publication.


    Copy the above HTML to republish this content. We have formatted the material to follow our guidelines, which include our credit requirements. Please review our full list of guidelines for more information. By republishing this content, you agree to our republication requirements.