Gabor A. Somorjai, Ph.D.

Gabor A. Somorjai



For seminal advances in molecular studies of surfaces through the use of single crystals, for the development of techniques for quantitative determinations of surface structure, and for establishing the molecular foundations of heterogeneous metal catalysis.

Laureate video: Gabor A. Somorjai, Ph.D.
Video credit: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.



In Dr. Gabor A. Somorjai’s nearly 5 decade-long research career, beginning with his study of metalized catalysts using small angle X-ray scattering in 1960, he has co-authored more than 1,200 scientific papers and three textbooks on surface chemistry and heterogeneous catalysis, and has mentored more than 400 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, many of whom have prominent positions in DOE national laboratories and who are leading major world class surface science and energy conversions. Over seventy of the scientists trained in his University of California (UC) Berkeley Laboratory are faculty members worldwide, and a large number are industry leaders in the electronic, chemical, and energy industries.

Professor Somorjai holds 10 honorary degrees from universities around the world. He received a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the Technical University, Budapest, and a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley. He was a staff scientist with IBM for four years until his appointment as Assistant Professor at UC Berkeley. In 2002 he was appointed University Professor, the highest honor bestowed to a faculty member in the University of California System. He is also a Faculty Senior Scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He received the NAS Award in Chemical Sciences (2013), Eni New Frontiers of Hydrocarbon Prize (2011), BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award (2010), and Honda Prize (2011), and Cotton Medal (2003). He received the National Medal of Science (2001), Wolf Prize (1998), Helmholtz Medal from the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences (2020), Langmuir Award from the American Physical Society (2007), and Von Hippel Award of the Materials Research Society (1997). He has received several awards from the American Chemical Society (ACS), including the Priestley Medal (2008), Award for Creative Research in Homogeneous and Heterogeneous Catalysis (2000), Adamson Award in Surface Chemistry (1994), Peter Debye Award in Physical Chemistry (1989), William Nichols Medal (2015), and Linus Pauling Award (2000). 

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