Frontiers Award

Frontiers Award of the MPI for Chemical Energy Conversion

Since 1995 the MPI for Chemical Energy Conversion presents the "Frontiers Award" to an internationally outstanding and renowned scientist. At the beginning this prize has been awarded for excellent research work in the field of "Bioinorganic Chemistry". After the institute was renamed in 2012 as the MPI for Chemical Energy Conversion, the prize was awarded in 2013 for the first time in the field of "Chemical Energy Conversion".

What is special about the Frontiers award is that apart from an official ceremony and a testimonial lecture the prizewinner also holds lectures for the staff of the institute which present the principles of their research work at an elevated level. The prizewinners are available for a whole week for scientific discussions with the staff. The "Frontiers Award" has an excellent international reputation. Prizewinners are nominated in a highly competitive procedure by the institute's staff council.

Frontiers Award 2016

The Frontiers Award Ceremony 2016 will place from November 9th to 11th at the MPI CEC

This year Prof. William Tolman, Distinguished McKnight University Professor and Chair of the Department of Chemistry at the University of Minnesota, Twin-Cities (USA), will be honored.

Awardee: Prof. Dr. William Tolman

Since 2013 Tolman has served as Editor-in-chief of the renowned journal Inorganic Chemistry. His research encompasses synthetic bioinorganic and organometallic/polymer chemistry. His research group focuses on the fundamental structural and mechanistic understanding of metalloprotein active sites and the synthesis and characterization of metal complexes for use as catalysts for the polymerization of cyclic esters. Prof. Tolman serves on numerous national and international committees and received many awards for his research.


Wednesday, 9.11.2016
9:00 h "Synthetic Modeling Approaches Toward Understanding Metalloenzymes: Vignettes Highlighting Successes, Challenges, and Opportunities"

Thursday, 10.11.2016
9:00 h "Applying Physical Organic Analysis to the Understanding of Inorganic Reaction Mechanisms: Copper(III)-Hydroxide Complexes as a Case Study"

Friday, 11.11.2016
9:00 h "Which is Better, the Book or the Movie? Advice for Scientists"

16:15 h Award Ceremony and Lecture       
“Copper-Oxygen Interactions in Biology and Catalysis: New Insights From Synthetic Chemistry Approaches?“

Frontiers Award 2015

This years Frontiers Award took place from March 3rd to 5th, 2015 at the MPI CEC

This year Prof. Eberhard Umbach won the Frontiers Award for his sedulous engagement within the sciences to promote the 'Energiewende' in Germany and for his outstanding research work on the field of experimental surface physics whereby he was involved in the development of several time-resolved synchrotron methods.

One highlight was for sure his award lecture “Chemical Research for the ‚Energiewende‘: Luxury or Necessity?“, in that Prof. Umbach discussed the possibilities, risks and progress of the chemical research work for the 'Energiewende'.

We summed up the content of his lectures in our press release (in German only).


Awardee: Prof. Dr. Eberhard Umbach

Member of acatech Executive Board, Founding President of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) until 2013, former Vice President of the Helmholtz Association and coordinator of the research field energy


Program: Graduate Lectures with Discussions

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015
10:00 h “Nanomicroscopy and nanospectroscopy using an aberration-corrected, low-voltage electron microscope at BESSY“
11:00 h “The dynamics of organic layer growth”

16:15 h Award Ceremony and Lecture
“Chemical Research for the ‚Energiewende‘: Luxury or Necessity?“

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015
10:00 h “The new German energy system - motives, chances and risks”
11:00 h “Main challenges of the ‘Energiewende’: storage and grids”

Thursday, March 5th, 2015
10:00 h “Strong and weak interactions of large organic molecules with different substrates”
11:00 h “Large-scale surface reconstruction induced by adsorption-induced stress at the metal-organic interface”


Picture gallery



Prof. Eberhard Umbach, Member of acatech Executive Board, Founding President of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) until 2013, former Vice President of the Helmholtz Association and coordinator of the research field energy.


Prof. Gabriele Centi, Department of Electronic Engineering, Industrial Chemistry and Engineering, University of Messina and INSTM & ERIC, Italy.


Prof. Dr. Sason Shaik, Lise Meitner-Minerva Center for Computational Quantum Chemistry (Israel)


Prof. Dr. Bärbel Friedrich, Humboldt-Universität Berlin (Germany)


Prof. John T. Groves, Princeton University (USA)


Prof. Brian M. Hoffmann, Northwestern University (USA)


Prof. Harry B. Gray, California Institute of Technology (USA)


Prof. Lawrence Que, University of Minnesota (USA)


Prof. Fraser A. Armstrong, Oxford University (UK)


Prof. Leslie Dutton, Pennsylvania (USA)


Prof. Edward Solomon, Stanford (USA)


Prof. Frans de Schreyver, KU Leuven (Belgium)


Prof. Richard Holmes, Harvard (USA)


Prof. Nick Turro, Columbia U. (USA)


Prof. Kenneth Raymond, Berkeley (USA)


Prof. Richard Cogdell, Glasgow (UK)


Prof. Stephen Lippard, MIT Cambrigde (USA)