Nature Chemistry | The Sceptical Chymist

The Stockholm syndrome

Well, it’s that time of year again. In less than a month’s time, we’ll have a few more Nobel prize winners on our hands – and so the speculation begins…

For the last few years, Thomson Scientific has been predicting who will win the Nobel prize in each of four subjects (Chemistry, Physics, Medicine and Economics*) based upon citations (amongst other things) to their work. Last year, was the first time they correctly predicted the Chemistry prize by naming Grubbs – although, to be honest, the guy from the taco truck in old town Pasadena could have made that pick…

This year, it’s out with the old and in with the new. Gone are the usual picks such as Whitesides, Stoddart and Shinkai (also Nicolaou is missing), and we are presented with three possible winning combinations.

1. Tobin Marks (Northwestern) for a mixture of all things organometallicky** and some materials work

2. Dave Evans and Steve Ley (Cambridge, over there and over here) for synthetic organic chemistry

3. Gerald Crabtree (Stanford) and Stuart Schreiber (Harvard) for chemical biology

Let’s just say that I would be a little surprised if any of these worthy candidates came out on top this year. And as for pick 2, there’s probably a few other synthetic people out there feeling a little left out right about now.

So, who will win. Paul at The Endless Frontier has something to say on the matter – what about you?


Stuart Cantrill (Associate Editor, Nature Nanotechnology)


  1. Report this comment

    barney said:

    Word from the taco truck is that Sesos and Cabeza are in the running for their delicious contributions to the development of BSE theory (Thanks… here all week).

    more seriously, a lot of bio lately, two for catalysis in the last 5 years, time for a straight up physical chemist? no guesses.

  2. Report this comment

    Jordan said:

    I think it’ll be the GFP/fluorescent probes crowd, headed by Tsien.

  3. Report this comment

    Propterdoc said:

    Being completely bias, I’m for anyone winning who does organometallic or materials chemistry. We need a break from the bio-esque stuff for a while. It would be really great if one day it went for highly structured polymers (dendrimers etc) to folks like Tomalia, Frechet, etc. As for this year, no clue!

  4. Report this comment

    Andrew Sun said:

    Completely agree with Propterdoc. I don’t know whether there is some polymer talking in ACS meeting. I guess may be the number of polymeric bloggers is just too small and no one of them go to ACS and blog something.

  5. Report this comment

    Stuart said:

    The problem with dendrimers, is who do you give it to..? As well as Tomalia and Frechet, there’s Newkome, Meijer, Vogtle, Percec and probably a few others that have skipped my mind…

  6. Report this comment

    Jordan said:

    I’d say that the bigger problem with dendrimers is that, though they are cool, it’s hard to pinpoint what’s really significant/useful/fundamental about them.

  7. Report this comment

    Ashutosh said:

    If Ley and Evans get it, I won’t feel it unfair because they got it, but I will feel unfair because others did not. Is it really too late to give Gilbert Stork the prize?

  8. Report this comment

    chiz said:

    It doesn’t have to be anything recent. Ed Southern won a Lasker last year after all. Willard Boyle and George Smith for CCDs?

    Shuji Nakamura for blue LEDS?

    Negative refraction will probably pick up a prize sometime but not yet. Photonic crystals?

    For the physiology prize, hmm. The fact the circadian clock is located in the suprachiasmatic nucleus and, maybe, clock genes. But there are still questions about the clock genes and we don’t know whether we have one clock or two (a morning-clock and an evening-clock) like drosophila etc. I don’t know enough about leptin, ghrelin etc to know if thats ready. MicroRNA’s and RNAi perhaps?

  9. Report this comment

    Cate said:

    I’m a bit fed up of all the fuss surrounding Nobel prizes (thought that I had best say this now or never!) – I wish that the prize was only given out every 5 years. That way the Nobel prize would actually mean something. No disrespect to the people who win – I think that they do some great science – but with the Nobel prize often being split between people there isn’t the distinction that there once was. Am I the only one who thinks this?

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    X said:


    Nobel committe also thinks so. That seems why they did not allow the price to share this time.