Merck Announces $5,000 Grand Prize Winner of Alfred R. Bader Award for Student Innovation

• Four student chemists awarded for innovation in synthetic organic chemistry
• Grand prize winner Thomas McTeague from Massachusetts Institute of Technology selected based on research presentation at Bader Student Chemistry Symposium

Merck, a leading science and technology company, recognized four student chemists for their research and innovations in synthetic organic chemistry as part of the Alfred R. Bader Student Chemistry Symposium at the company’s global headquarters in Darmstadt, Germany. At the close of the event, students presented their research to an audience of Merck staff and guests, and a panel of judges selected Thomas McTeague from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for the $5,000 grand prize.

Following is a list of the finalists and their research topics:
• Thomas McTeague, Photoredox Activation of SF6 for Fluorination, $5,000 grand prize winner, plus $500 prize winner.
Other winners of $500 prizes were:
• Robynne Neff, Design and Development of a New Commercially Viable Pd(0)-Catalyst.
• Keita Tanaka, Palladium-catalyzed Remote C–H Activation with Bifunctional Template.
• Jennifer Matsui, Photoredox-Mediated Dual Catalysis and Metal-Free C–H Alkylation: Incorporating New Radical Precursors and Utilizing Complex Alkyltrifluoroborates for Late-Stage Functionalization.

“We’re proud to recognize young chemists and their innovative research,” said Udit Batra, Member of the Merck Executive Board and CEO, Life Science. “Novel compound discoveries in synthetic organic chemistry can transform pharmaceutical, agriculture, and manufacturing industries. As a longstanding leader and collaborator in the chemistry space, these discoveries align with our objective to continue fostering curiosity and accelerating innovation.”

McTeague’s presentation focused on his work to develop the ubiquitous SF6 gas into a more effective fluoride source for use in chemical synthesis. While fluorine-containing molecules constitute a disproportionate number of important agrochemicals and pharmaceuticals, the introduction of fluorine through traditional methods can still be problematic. By using photoredox catalysis and taking the reaction into continuous flow, McTeague was ultimately successful in using SF6 to install fluorine in select organic molecules.

The Alfred R. Bader Award for Student Innovation competition was open to advanced graduate students (3+ years) in synthetic organic chemistry from around the world and recognizes the big ideas of up-and-coming chemists whose work is expected to accelerate progress in chemistry. The contest theme this year was the development of instrumentation broadly applicable to synthetic organic chemistry and the reactive use of current reagents, catalysts and ligands in methodology or total synthesis projects. The award is named for Sigma-Aldrich co-founder Alfred R. Bader.