Jane Frommer, PhD, to Receive Prestigious 2020 Perkin Medal


World-renowned scientist known for seminal contributions to the areas of electronically conducting polymers and scanning probe instrumentation to be honored by the Society of Chemical Industry on September 22, 2020

Jane Frommer, PhD will receive the Perkin Medal on September 22, 2020 in Philadelphia.

PHILADELPHIA, March 24, 2020 – The Society of Chemical Industry (SCI) America announced today that Jane Frommer, PhD, Science Advisor at Collabra Inc., will be awarded the 2020 Perkin Medal at an award ceremony in Philadelphia, PA on September 22, 2020.  

“The work Dr. Frommer has done around nanoscopic analytical methods is vital to thin film and nano-structural efforts now pervasive throughout industries,” said John Paro, Chair and CEO of Hallstar and Chair of SCI America. “Over three decades she has shared her pioneering work at IBM Research with the industrial and academic communities through an abundance of publications and public lectures. SCI is pleased to reward Dr. Frommer’s remarkable success in the industry, her contributions to science, and her commitment to mentoring the next generation of scientists.” 

The Perkin Medal Selection Committee, consisting of the Chairs or Presidents of the American Chemical Society, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, the Science History Institute, and the Society of Chemical Industry, noted Dr. Frommer’s groundbreaking research in conducting polymers and on scanning probe microscopies and their application to practical, real-world problems of vital importance to industry’s research, development, and manufacturing quality. Her pioneering activity of demonstrating molecular underpinnings in materials science and her leadership in the field of scanning probe nanotechnology worldwide, and the impact of her discoveries on the technical industrial community at large, led them to choose her as the 2020 Perkin medalist. 

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

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About Jane Frommer 

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. 

About the Society of Chemical Industry (SCI) Perkin Medal

The annual award is recognized as the highest honor given for outstanding work in applied chemistry in the United States. It commemorates the discovery of the first synthetic dye (the so-called Perkin mauve) by Sir William Henry Perkin in 1856. This discovery was a significant step forward in organic chemistry that led to the birth of a major segment of the chemical industry. The SCI Perkin Medal was first awarded to Sir William at a banquet held by the SCI in New York in 1906. Since then, more than 100 such awards have been given to notable scientists.

About the Society of Chemical Industry (SCI)

SCI America, launched in 1894, is part of the Society of Chemical Industry’s international organization. It provides a unique networking forum for chemical industry leaders, industrial scientists, and technologists to exchange new business ideas and best practices. It celebrates achievement to promote public awareness of the contributions of industrial chemistry and inspires students to enter technical careers. SCI America events are managed by the Science History Institute. The Perkin Medal award dinner will be the final event of Innovation Day, a full day of research collaboration in the molecular sciences held at the Institute in Philadelphia on September 22, 2020.

About the Science History Institute

The Science History Institute collects and shares the stories of innovators and of discoveries that shape our lives. The Institute preserves and interprets the history of chemistry, chemical engineering, and the life sciences. Headquartered in Philadelphia, with offices in California and Europe, the Institute houses an archive and a library for historians and researchers, a fellowship program for visiting scholars from around the globe, a community of researchers who examine historical and contemporary issues, an acclaimed museum that is free and open to the public, and a state-of-the-art conference center.

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