University of Minnesota
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Alumnus Gary Brudvig receives Outstanding Achievement Award

Alumnus Gary W. Brudvig (BS,'76), Ph.D., has received an Outstanding Achievement Award (OAA) from the University of Minnesota. This award honors alumni for their unusual distinction in their chosen professions or in public service, and who have demonstrated outstanding achievement and leadership on a community, state, national, or international level.

He is being honored for the impact of his many scientific contributions to the field of energy conversion both in biological and abiological systems, his extensive service contributions to his field, his outreach to the science education community in New Haven, and his effective mentoring of coworkers.

Professor Brudvig is chair of the Department of Chemistry at Yale University, and is also its Benjamin Silliman Professor. He has a joint appointment in the Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, and is director of the Yale Energy Sciences Institute. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from the University of Minnesota in 1976, graduating with high distinction. He went on to earn his doctorate in chemistry from the California Institute of Technology in 1981, and conducted post-doctoral research at the University of California, Berkeley. He began his career in academia at Yale University in 1982.

He is an outstanding researcher, focusing on solar energy conversion. One area of his research encompasses understanding the chemical mechanism by which oxygen is formed from two water molecules in photosynthesis. Many of Brudvig's more than 300 publications detail the structure of the intermediates and the complex, step-by-step events involved in the reactions of photosystem II, where oxygen formation occurs. His work is shedding light on manganese's role as an essential element in the formation of oxygen. His significant findings are important to understanding the biological production of oxygen necessary for sustaining life on the planet.

Professor Brudvig is also making an important impact on developing man-made catalysts for using solar energy to generate fuels that can be stored and used in place of the dwindling supply of fossil fuels. His primary focus is on the water-splitting reaction (artificial photosynthesis), which uses sunlight to convert water into oxygen and hydrogen.

As one of his long-time friends, U of M's Professor John Lipscomb notes that throughout his life, Brudvig has consistently sought out venues to use his talents to benefit the greater community. His service contributions are extensive. At Yale, Brudvig has twice served as chair of its Department of Chemistry. Since 2000, he has been an associate editor of Biochemistry, the leading journal in the field. He has organized numerous conferences and symposia, including a Gordon Conference on the Biophysical Aspects of Photosynthesis. Recently, he was elected to chair the 2018 Gordon Conference on Solar Fuels.

Brudvig's outreach efforts demonstrate his enthusiasm for fostering science education in high schools. He regularly has taught a two-week seminar course at the New Haven Teachers Institute, and developed new teaching units on topics, including "Chemistry of Photosynthesis," "Renewable Energy," "Green Chemistry," "Energy Sciences," and "The Chemistry of Everyday Things."

Among Brudvig's numerous honors and awards are the Distinguished Alumni Award from Mounds View High School in Minnesota, being elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and selection as an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow, Camille and Henry Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar, and Searle Scholar.

Another of his long-time friends, Professor William Tolman, chair of the U of M Department of Chemistry said: "Gary is an exceptional scholar who has made highly significant contributions to understanding the molecular details of photosynthesis and the development of new oxygen-evolving catalysts. An esteemed alumni of our department, he has made key impacts in research, mentoring, teaching, and outreach that make us very proud."