Dreyfus Foundation Award Supports Chemistry at Harvey Mudd College

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The Harvey Mudd College Department of Chemistry has been awarded a 2023 Jean Dreyfus Boissevain Lectureship for Undergraduate Institutions by the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation. The award provides a grant to bring a leading researcher to a primarily undergraduate institution to give at least two lectures in the chemical sciences. The award also supports two undergraduates in 2024 chemistry summer research.

From a list of distinguished chemists nominated by the chemistry faculty for this honor, students selected Richmond Sarpong, professor of chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley. A researcher of natural product synthesis and organic synthesis methodology, Sarpong develops novel C-C bond cleavage and skeletal diversification reactions to modify the core framework of molecules. This innovative work has enabled the Sarpong Group to accomplish the synthesis of many complex natural products of pharmaceutical interest through concise and elegant routes.

“The chemistry department is thrilled to welcome Dr. Richmond Sarpong, who leads one of the most innovative organic chemistry labs in the country,” said Karl Haushalter, Seeley W. Mudd Professor of Chemistry and Biology and department chair. “We are grateful to the Dreyfus Foundation for this support and the opportunity to share Dr. Sarpong’s work with Harvey Mudd and the Claremont Colleges community.”  

Sarpong has received multiple awards for his work, including the Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award, an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellowship, the ACS Cope Scholar Award and the 2022 ACS Award for Creative Work in Synthetic Organic Chemistry. The inspiration for his work in natural product synthesis is drawn from the dramatic impact of pharmaceuticals, such as the anti-parasite drug ivermectin, which impacted people suffering from river blindness in his home country of Ghana. He described such influences and inspirations in a TEDxBerkeley talk in 2015 (Face of Disease in Sub-Saharan Africa). 

The two centerpieces of Sarpong’s visit will be a public lecture on Jan. 29 and a research seminar for students. In addition to these two events, Sarpong will visit classes, including the general chemistry class taken by all first-year Harvey Mudd students, and the Organic Chemistry II class. He’ll also meet with students, faculty and staff within chemistry and with student affinity groups.  

The Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation, a leading nonprofit organization devoted to the advancement of the chemical sciences, was established in 1946 by chemist, inventor and business leader Camille Dreyfus. Jean Dreyfus Boissevain, his wife, was president of the Foundation from 1956 until her death in 1991.

The Harvey Mudd College Department of Chemistry is committed to a challenging curriculum and extensive hands-on experience with modern instrumentation and computation, a robust research program and a broad-based education with an emphasis on problem-solving skills.