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George C. Pimentel
1922 - 1989

Welcome | Commencement Address | Selected Biographical Summaries
Awards Named for George C. Pimentel | Students and Research Collaborators
Continuing Influence: Mars Research  | Matrix Isolation
Pimentel Archive at UC Berkeley
  Site Map | Contact Us

Awards Named for George C. Pimentel

Tributes to George's life have taken various forms. Three awards bear his name, as well as an endowed lectureship. The awardees are listed below. All of them are, or become, aware of George's effect on their fields of study, and through their own talents continue his tradition of achievement and enrichment.  

Various meetings, journal issues, and exhibits have been dedicated to him over the years. In 1994, the Physical Sciences Lecture Hall on the UC Berkeley campus, where he lectured to millions of students, was renamed Pimentel Hall.

ACS Award in Chemical Education
Memorial Lecture, UC Berkeley
Undergraduate Award, UC Berkeley
Matrix Isolation Prizes


American Chemical Society
George C. Pimentel Award 
in Chemical Education

Formerly known as the ACS Award in Chemical Education, it was renamed the George C. Pimentel Award after his death in 1989. An exception was made to the rule against posthumous awards, and his daughter Jan Coonrod accepted the award in his name at the 1990 awards ceremony during the ACS meeting.
The award is currently sponsored by Cengage Publishing.

2014 Thomas J. Greenbowe Iowa State University
2013 Conrad L. Stanitski Franklin & Marshall College
2012 Diane M. Bunce Catholic University
2011 William R. Robinson Purdue University
2010 Zafra Lerman Columbia College
2009 Henry W. Heikkinen University of Northern Colorado
2008 Richard N. Zare Stanford University


A. Truman Schwartz

Macalester College


F. Albert Cotton

Texas A&M University


James N. Spencer

Franklin & Marshall College


Nicholas J. Turro

Columbia University


George M. Bodner

Purdue University


Michael P. Doyle

University of Arizona


Harry B. Gray

California Institute of Technology


Jerry A. Bell

American Chemical Society


Mary Virginia Orna

College of New Rochelle


Stanley G. Smith

University of Illinois


Arthur B. Ellis

University of Wisconsin


Roald Hoffmann

Cornell University


Ernest L. Eliel

University of North Carolina


Glenn T. Seaborg

University of California, Berkeley


George B. Kauffman

Fresno State University


Fred Basolo

Northwestern University


John W. Moore

University of Wisconsin


George C. Pimentel

University of California, Berkeley

Prior awardees (of the ACS Award in Chemical Education):
1989Joseph J. Lagowski1970Hubert N. Alyea
1988Marjorie H. Gardner1969L. Carroll King
1987Linus Pauling1968William F. Kieffer
1986Bassam Z. Shakhashiri1967Louis F. Fieser
1985Glenn A. Crosby1966W. Conway Pierce
1984Arthur W. Adamson1965Theodore A. Ashford
1983Michell J. Sienko1964Alfred B. Garrett
1982Anna J. Harrison1963Edward L. Haenisch
1981Derek A. Davenport1962William G. Young
1980Henry A. Bent1961John C. Bailar, Jr.
1979Gilbert P. Haight, Jr.1960Arthur F. Scott
1978Lloyd N. Ferguson1959Harry F. Lewis
1977Robert W. Parry1958Frank E. Brown
1976Leallyn B. Clapp1957Norris W. Rakestraw
1975William T. Lippincott1956Otto M. Smith
1974George S. Hammond1955Gerrit Van Zyl
1973Robert C. Brasted1954Raymond E. Kirk
1972J. Arthur Campbell1953Howard J. Lucas
1971Laurence E. Strong1952Joel H. Hildebrand

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George C. Pimentel Memorial Lecture
Chemistry Department, UC Berkeley
Sponsored by IBM

This award allows the Department to invite a distinguished speaker to present a special lecture in the physical chemistry seminar series. It was initiated by Joseph M. Jazinski, of IBM Research Center.

2012-13 Ann E. McDermott Columbia University
2011-12 Robert W. Field Massachusetts Institute of Technology
2010-11 Robin Hochstrasser University of Pennsylvania
2009-10  Dudley Herschbach Harvard University
2008-09 Sumio Iijima Meijo University, Japan
2007-08 Geraldine Richmond University of Oregon


Charles M. Lieber

Harvard University


Manfred Eigen

Max Planck Institute, Germany


Sir David King

Cambridge University, UK


Wilson Ho

University of California, Irvine


Louis Brus

Columbia University


Mario Molina

Massachusetts Institute of Technology


C. Bradley Moore

Ohio State University


Takeshi Oka

University of Chicago


Charles S. Parmenter

Indiana University


John Simon

Oxford University, UK


Ahmed H. Zewail

California Institute of Technology


Ian Carrington

Southampton University, UK


Carl Sagan

Cornell University


William C. Lineberger

University of Colorado


Richard N. Zare

Stanford University


William G. Klemperer

Harvard University

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George C. Pimentel Award
College of Chemistry, UC Berkeley

In 2002, the College of Chemistry, with the cooperation of Jeanne Pimentel, established the George C. Pimentel Award, to encourage undergraduate research in chemistry. It is given to a graduating senior who has done lab research as an undergraduate, and who is a first-generation college student, and who plans to go on to graduate study in science-related fields. The award carries a monetary prize that was started modestly with discretionary funds from the Dean of the College of Chemistry, and grows as donations increase the endowment.

The first award was given at Commencement, 2002, to Victor Tam, a student from a small town in California's Central Valley-as George was. He went on to do graduate work at UC San Diego. 

Victor Tam with his parents, Patricia and Tom Tam, and Professor Matt Francis


The 2003 award went to Cesar Napoleon Mejia. His family is originally from Nicaragua; he graduated from Bell High School in Southern California, where he was valedictorian.  His research was on excited states of bromine-containing molecules of atmospheric significance, with Professor Martin Head-Gordon as his advisor. After graduation he was accepted as an intern at NASA-Ames Research Center.

Cesar Mejia  


The 2004 recipient of the award was Irena Dragojevic.  An immigrant from Serbia, she had to master English before being accepted at UC Berkeley, where she did undergraduate research with Professors Herb Strauss, Luciano Moretto, and Heino Nitsche.  She went on to do graduate work at UCLA in nuclear chemistry.

Irena Dragojevic


The 2005 award winner is Zaihleen Shariff Keller. who is from Canada; her Indian parents emigrated there from Kenya. She did undergraduate work with Ahamindra Jain on synthesis of a compound for possible use in cancer treatment, and she also mentored other students. She is considering medical school as one of several graduate options.

Zaihleen Shariff Keller


The winner of the 2006 award is Lok Him Yu, who also worked with Ahamindra Jain. He did two research projects, one on inhibitors of flu virus infection, and another on developing agents for imaging and treatment of prostate cancer; he also trained other students. He plans to work for a pharmaceutical company before going to grad school in chemical biology. Born in Hong Kong, he came to California at the age of seventeen with his family.

Lok Him Yu with his research director, Ahamindra Jain  

Lok Him Yu with his grandfather, father, and mother


The 2007 award goes to Dylan Arias, who did research with Professor Ron Cohen on atmospheric chemistry. He also participated in the College of Chemistry Scholar's Program and became an articulate and invaluable student tutor. He graduated from Edison High School in Fresno, and will pursue graduate studies at Massachusetts institute of Technology in Fall 2007.

Dylan Arias


Huiyang Winnie Liang is the winner of the 2008 award. She came to San Francisco from China with her family in 1996, and graduated from Galileo High School. Her undergraduate research was in Professor Paul Alivisatos's group, working with graduate student Shelley Claridge, on isolation of discrete nanoparticle-conjugates using anion exchange HPLC. She will spend the next year at the National Institutes of Health, as an intern, working on malaria-related projects, and applying to graduate school in chemical biology.

Huiyang Winnie Liang


Raja Ravinel Narayan is the winner of the 2009 award. His father came from Fiji and settled in Union City, California. Raja did undergraduate research with Professor Richmond Sarpong, on synthesizing analogs of the molecule lyconadin A, which potentially could be used in treating disease; he is currently applying to medical schools.

Raja Ravinel Narayan


The winner of the 2010 award is Jingwei Zhang, who comes from Shanghai, China, and majored in Chemical Biology at UC Berkeley. His undergraduate research, supervised by Professor Judith Klinman, lies in the field of enzymology, studying the role of protein dynamics in enzyme catalysis. He will be returning to UC Berkeley to pursue graduate studies in Bioengineering.

Jingwei Zhang


Bao Tran Ngoe Truong was the winner of the 2011 award. Born in Vietnam, she went to high school in Singapore, where she won a scholarship to UC Berkeley. She worked in Professor Jean Fréchet’s group on self-healing hydrogels with dendritic molecular binders, and then on SiRNA delivery systems. For the next year she worked as a research engineer at the Institute of Chemical and Engineering Sciences in Singapore, and is now a graduate student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Bao Tran Ngoe Truong


Ieng Chim (“Steven”) Wan was the winner of the 2012 award. He did undergraduate research with Professor Andrew Streitwieser. In 2013 he went to the University of Groningen, in the Netherlands, to do experimental research on coordination chemistry and, after getting his Masters degree, plans to work on a Ph.D. there in theoretical chemistry.

Ieng Chim Wan

Ieng Chim Wan with Prof. Streitwieser


Samuel Hin-Yuen Ho was the winner of the 2013 award. He did research in the lab of Ron Zuckermann at the Molecular Foundry. He went on to do graduate work at the California Institute of Technology.

Samuel Hin-Yuen Ho

Sam Ho and family with Jeanne Pimentel

Photos courtesy of Samuel Hin-Yuen Ho


Julie Ming Liang is the winner of the 2014 award. Her parents emigrated from South China to the Bay Area, where Julie was born. She did research with Professor Jamie Cate, studying enzymes involved in cell wall degradation. For the next year she plans to travel and take internships in various labs while applying to graduate school at major U.S. research institutions.

Julie Ming Liang with Jeanne Pimentel

Julie Ming Liang with Prof. Jamie Cate

Photos courtesy of Julie Ming Liang


The 2015 winner is Thomas Khanh Hung Le, whose family came to California from Vietnam. Thomas has done work in the Michelle Chang group on enzymatic production of butanol using E. coli and in the Graham Fleming group on a kinetic model for nonphotochemical quenching. He plans to go to medical school after a year of broadening experiences such as an internship in Japan.

Thomas Khanh Hung Le

Thomas Le with Jeanne Pimentel


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George C. Pimentel Prizes for Advances in Matrix Isolation

This was awarded for the first time in 2005, at the international meeting of the Matrix Conference, in Funchal, Madeira, Portugal, marking the 50th anniversary of Pimentel's invention of the matrix isolation technique. Awarded by the Organizing Committee of MATRIX 2005 and the Association of the Matrix-Isolation World Community, the main prize recognizes outstanding contributions to matrix isolation spectroscopy. It was first proposed by Werner Klotzbuecher, editor of the MIDE newsletter. The award is in the form of a certificate together with a cash prize 1500 Euros, and a unique figure from the Lichtenberg collection. 

There is also an award for the Best Poster presented at the meeting, sponsored in 2005 by the Portuguese Chemical Society. This award is in the form of a certificate together with a cash prize of 250 Euros, and a medal. The major criteria for selecting the winner are the scientific content and originality of the work, the potential impact, and the clarity of the poster. While not restricted to students, this award obviously encourages student participation, in the Pimentel tradition.

The winner of the main 2005 award was:

Marilyn Jacox, Senior Scientist (retired) of INISTE, who at one time worked closely with Professor Pimentel and his graduate student, the late Dolphus Milligan. Dr. Jacox was not at the conference, but she sent a slide that she used in lectures, of George Pimentel's portrait with a definition of the matrix isolation technique (click here for slide).

The second finalist was:
Lester Andrews, Professor, University of Virginia, who was a graduate student with George Pimentel.

The third finalist was: 
Markuu Räsänen, Professor, University of Jyväskylä, Finland.

The winner of the Best Poster award was:
Antii Lignell, of Markuu Räsänen's research group.

The 2007 prize was awarded to Dr. Lester Andrews, of the University of Virginia, at the Gordon Research Conference on Matrix-Isolated Species, at Bates College, Maine, USA

The award is given biennially.

The 2011 prize was awarded to William Weltner,

The 2013 prize was awarded to Vladimir E. Bondybey,

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Copyright © 2003 - 2014 Jeanne Pimentel

Welcome | Commencement Address | Selected Biographical Summaries
Awards Named for George C. Pimentel | Students and Research Collaborators
Continuing Influence: Mars Research  | Matrix Isolation
Pimentel Archive at UC Berkeley
  Site Map | Contact Us