White House honors Utah university chemist

Sept. 27, 2011 at 8:55 PM
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WASHINGTON, Sept. 27 (UPI) -- Peter J. Stang of the University of Utah has won a National Medal of Science, the highest U.S. honor for a scientist or engineer, school officials announced.

Stang, an organic chemist who was a teenager when he and his family fled the 1956 Soviet invasion of Hungary, was among seven scientists honored with the Medal of Science announced Tuesday by the White House.

"Each of these extraordinary scientists, engineers and inventors is guided by a passion for innovation, a fearlessness even as they explore the very frontiers of human knowledge, and a desire to make the world a better place," President Barack Obama said.

"I am very humbled, honored and pleased," said Stang, 69, who is tentatively scheduled to be honored by the president at the White House this year. "To date, I have had approximately 100 postdoctoral students and Ph.D. students whom I mentored, and this recognizes their work too."

Stang was cited by the White House "for his creative contributions to the development of organic supramolecular chemistry and for his outstanding and unique record of public service."

"Supramolecular chemistry" involves the self-assembly of large molecules that mimic nature and build themselves from a mixture of pre-designed chemical building blocks.

"It's like a Lego set with individual building units," Stang said. "You can make complicated structures and systems."

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