Distinguished Professor Yitzhak Apeloig of the Schulich Faculty of Chemistry has been awarded the 2021 Schrödinger Medal of the World Association of Theoretical and Computational Chemists (WATOC). Past recipients of this honour include four Chemistry Nobel Prize winners and many of the pioneers of computational quantum chemistry.
The prestigious medal is awarded each year to a single scientist whose contribution to theoretical and computational chemistry is particularly outstanding. Professor Apeloig’s selection was based on his seminal contributions to the chemistry of organosilicon compounds and to organic chemistry, and for the impressive combination of experimentation, computations, and theory in his research.
Professor Apeloig joined the Technion faculty in 1976 and served as President of the university from 2001 to 2009. He pioneered the use of computational tools based on quantum theory to predict molecular characteristics and molecular reactions, as well as organosilicon chemistry. He has received a plethora of important awards, including the Taub Award for academic excellence, the Distinguished Teacher Award from the Technion, the Humboldt Prize, the award of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS), the gold medal of the Israel Chemical Society, the Wacker Silicone Award, and the ACS Kipping Award in Silicon Chemistry. He is an honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the European Academy of Sciences, holds an honorary doctorate of science from the Berlin Institute of Technology, has been awarded the Order of Merit of the President of the Federal Republic of Germany, and is an honorary citizen of Haifa, Israel.
The World Association of Theoretical and Computational Chemists (WATOC) aims to promote the field of theoretical and computational chemistry and to advance the interactions between scientists working in this field worldwide. Its most recent congress was attended by 1,500 scientists from all around the world.
The Schrödinger Medal is named after the Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger, one of the fathers of quantum mechanics and a Nobel Prize laureate who developed a wave equation named after him – the Schrödinger equation. Some WATOC members work on developing mathematical methods and computer programs to solve the equation. Others, including Prof. Apeloig, apply these methods to study and predict the characteristics and reactions of various compounds. Prof. Apeloig was one of the first experimental chemists in the world to realise the potential of computational methods and applied them in his research already in the 1970s.
Today, many chemistry studies in the academy and in the industry (such as the development of new compounds, new medicines, etc.) are performed using computational methods, most commonly in a collaborative effort between experimenting and calculating research groups. One of the unique features of Prof. Apeloig’s research is that the experimental and computational research are usually performed by the same student, who acquires knowledge in both disciplines, an important factor in his/her scientific development.