Perkin Medal


History and Purpose:

The Perkin Medal was established to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the discovery of mauvene. Today it is widely acknowledged as the highest honor in American industrial chemistry. Perkin was a founding Member of SCI and this Medal was first presented in New York to Perkin himself.

Since 1906 SCI’s America Group has honored many inspiring and brilliant scientists in Perkin’s name.  Ranging from Edward Acheson of graphite and carborundum fame to Carl Djerassi who developed the first contraceptive pill, awards have demonstrated the contribution of science to today’s world. Names like I Langmuir, Glen Seaborg and Heinman Hass sit alongside those of Arthur D Little and Milton Harris, who transformed the way research and whole enterprises were managed.

The award is presented in September at the Hilton Hotel in Philadelphia.  Attended by a wide range of scientists and executives from science-based industries, it provides an excellent opportunity to network with those working to advance modern industrial chemistry.

Sir William Henry Perkin:


Sir William Henry Perkin (1838-1907) at the age of 18 created the world’s first synthetic aniline dye, which revolutionized color chemistry and opened up new possibilities for a whole range of industries; most notably, textiles and clothing.

Perkin was born in England and entered the Royal College of Science at 15. At 18, in private experiments attempting to make quinine, he inadvertently created a dye. Just six months later mauve was being used in a London dyehouse. He enjoyed international acclaim and went on to more discoveries and opened his own factories. He ‘retired’ from industry to focus on ‘pure science’ at the age of 36.

2020 Perkin Award Medalist – Jane Frommer, PhD

Dr. 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 90s, 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 their 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 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. Dr. Frommer has authored over 100 refereed publications and is co-inventor on over 50 issued patents. She is a Fellow of the American Chemical Society and the 2017 recipient of the ACS Award in Industrial Chemistry.

Dr. Frommer obtained her B.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 the Mass General Hospital. She earned her Ph.D. degree from Caltech, studying transition metal-functionalized polymers and organometallic cluster compounds as models for Fischer-Tropsch catalysis with Bob Bergman.

Dr. Frommer will receive the medal at a dinner in her honor on September 22, 2020 at the Hyatt at the Bellevue in Philadelphia.

Past Perkin Medalists
Perkin Medal Award Nomination Rules
Nomination Form