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David Bricker
University Communications

Last modified: Tuesday, March 3, 2009

IU Bloomington chemist wins prestigious international award

March 3, 2009

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Daniel J. Mindiola, associate professor of chemistry at Indiana University Bloomington, is the recipient of a 2009 Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Award.

Daniel Mindiola

Photo by: Chris Meyer

Associate Professor of Chemistry Daniel Mindiola

Print-Quality Photo

Mindiola will receive a 45,000-euro prize (US $56,600) from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. He also will be given the opportunity to work with some of Germany's best chemists over 11 months.

Mindiola's two nominators were Herbert Roesky of the University of Göttingen and Karsten Meyer of the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg. While Mindiola is in Germany, Meyer will be his host.

Mindiola says he'll use his German sabbatical to learn more about the fundamental aspects of spectroscopy -- a key analytical tool used in chemistry and other scientific disciplines to analyze some of the intrinsic properties of inorganic compounds. Mindiola will leave for Germany in late May.

"I want to bring some of that knowledge back to Bloomington in such a way that benefits our research here and our students' education," Mindiola said.

In return, German chemists and students will benefit from Mindiola's expertise in synthetic and mechanistic chemistry.

"Humboldt Foundation faculty awards are highly sought after since they offer an individual the opportunity to collaborate with a German scientist of his or her choice," said IU Bloomington Chemistry Chair Jim Reilly. "Since there are only 25 of these given in all fields, it is a very prestigious honor to be selected. Dan will bring his own expertise to the lab he visits. Then he will pick up new ways to do science that he will be able to apply when he returns to Bloomington. Everyone benefits from this kind of experience."

The Bessel Award is given to no more than 25 scientists annually who are "internationally renowned in their field, who completed their doctorates less than 12 years ago, and who in future are expected to continue producing cutting-edge achievements which will have a seminal influence on their discipline beyond their immediate field of work," according to the Humboldt Foundation.

Mindiola is earning the praise of his colleagues for work that might be thought of as a kind of chemical salvaging. He looks at how substances usually thought of as waste or useless can be imbued with utility. Among his many ongoing projects, Mindiola's group is looking at how depleted uranium 238, a weakly radiogenic isotope of uranium nuclear waste, can be transformed into something useful, say, a source of energy or a catalyst. Mindiola is also looking at how chemicals that interact with light might be used to transform CO2 into commodity products or generate oxygen (O2) cheaply and efficiently from environmentally benign and abundant resources such as water.

In 2005, Mindiola was given the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers by John Marburger III, science adviser to then-President George W. Bush.

The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation annually enables more than 1,800 researchers from all over the world to spend time researching in Germany. The Foundation maintains a network of some 23,000 Humboldtians from all disciplines in 130 countries worldwide -- including 41 Nobel Prize winners.

To speak with Mindiola, please contact David Bricker at 812-856-9035 or