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 and will be awarded at the 2021 event.
2020 Medalist: Jane Frommer
World-renowned scientist Jane Frommer will receive the SCI Perkin Medal at a dinner in her honor on September 14, 2021, at the Hyatt at the Bellevue in Philadelphia.
Frommer’s approach of bringing chemical awareness to physics and engineering in R&D environments is illustrated in the two areas of conducting polymers and scanning probe microscopy. She began her career in 1980 at Allied Corporate Laboratories (now Honeywell) where motivated to perform mechanistic studies, she created and studied the solution state of electronically conducting organic polymers. In 1986 she joined IBM Research—a nexus for scanning probe invention—where together with instrumentalists, they demonstrated unambiguously the ability to image and manipulate single molecules with STM (scanning tunneling microscopy). On a multiyear assignment to the University of Basel Physics Institute in the early 1990s, her academic team expanded the capability of scanning probes into measuring functional properties of organic thin films with AFM (atomic force microscopy). In doing so, they demonstrated the method’s ability to distinguish between different molecular species within monolayers.
Since 2018 she has served as a science advisor on behalf of Google to expand its presence in open-source data in the physical and life sciences. She also advises numerous Silicon Valley start-ups in addressing the chemical and material challenges of nanotechnology.
Frommer has been an avid mentor to high school and college students, most of whom are first in their families to seek a higher education. She is active in the American Chemical Society (ACS) at the local and national levels, an associate editor of the Beilstein Journal of Nanotechnology, and a panelist and reviewer for numerous public and private science and community organizations. Frommer has authored over 100 refereed publications and is co-inventor on over 50 issued patents. She is an ACS fellow and the 2017 recipient of the ACS Award in Industrial Chemistry.
Frommer obtained her bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Tufts University while performing bio-organic undergraduate research at MIT with Bill Rastetter. Following graduation, she worked in vitamin D research with Michael Holick at Mass General Hospital. She earned her PhD from Caltech, studying transition metal-functionalized polymers and organometallic cluster compounds as models for Fischer-Tropsch catalysis with Bob Bergman.
Previous 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
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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.
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