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U. of I. chemistry professor wins $500,000 MacArthur Fellow Award

James E. Kloeppel, Physical Sciences Editor
217-244-1073; kloeppel@illinois.edu



9/20/2005

Todd Martinez
Click photo to enlarge
Photo by L. Brian Stauffer
Todd Martinez, a theoretical chemist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has been named a 2005 MacArthur Fellow by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Martinez is among 25 individuals who will each receive $500,000 in “no strings attached” support over the next five years.

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Todd Martinez, a theoretical chemist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has been named a 2005 MacArthur Fellow by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Martinez is among 25 individuals who will each receive $500,000 in “no strings attached” support over the next five years.

MacArthur Fellows are selected for their creativity, originality and potential. By providing resources without stipulations, the MacArthur Foundation offers the opportunity for fellows to accelerate their current activities or take their work in new directions.

Martinez, who also is a researcher at the Frederick Seitz Materials Research Laboratory, the Materials Computation Center and at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, has focused his research on understanding the reactions of molecules in ultrafine detail – to specify exactly how atoms move in space and how the energies of molecules change over time.

“This is an exemplary honor for Professor Martinez, his department and, of course, the university,” said Richard Herman, the chancellor of the Urbana campus. “Designation as a MacArthur Fellow signifies the recipient has been singled out as a person of extraordinary talent and we are enormously proud to have him on our faculty.”

Through his work, Martinez seeks to explain and predict complex chemical reactions based on the quantum mechanical properties of the atoms involved in the reaction. His research focuses on describing molecules at excited states, where conventional ground state electronic structure calculations are inadequate to capture the nature of their chemical reactivity. By combining effective strategies for computing the quantum mechanical properties of complex molecules with a deep intuition for their underlying chemical behavior, Martinez is revealing fundamental insights into the physical basis for chemical reactions.

Martinez received his bachelor’s degree in chemistry in 1989 from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich., and his doctorate in chemistry in 1994 from the University of California at Los Angeles. He was a Fulbright Fellow at the Fritz Haber Institute for Molecular Dynamics in Jerusalem, Israel, and a University of California Presidential Postdoctoral Fellow at UCLA for two years prior to joining the Illinois faculty in 1996.

One of the nation’s largest private philanthropic foundations, the MacArthur Foundation has awarded more than $3 billion in grants since it began operations in 1978.