Melanie S. Sanford is currently the Moses Gomberg Distinguished University Professor and Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Chemistry at the University of Michigan. She is an organometallic chemist recognized for her work developing new catalytic transformations, particularly for the functionalization of carbon–hydrogen bonds and for the introduction of fluorine into organic molecules. Her group has made major contributions to understanding the mechanisms of transition metal-catalyzed reactions, particularly those involving unusual high oxidation states such as Pd(IV), Ni(III), Ni(IV), and Cu(III). In addition, she works on applications of these fundamental studies in, for example, the development of new PET imaging agents and in the development of novel materails for energy storage. She was born in 1975 and received her BS and MS degrees from Yale University in 1996.
She received her PhD in 2001 from the California Institute of Technology and conducted postdoctoral research at Princeton University from 2001-2003. Professor Sanford started her independent career as an Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan in 2003 and rose through the ranks to Associate Professor (in 2006) and Professor (in 2010). She has received a number of awards, including a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, the Blavanik National Award in Chemistry, the BASF Catalysis Prize, and the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Prize in Chemistry. In addition, she has received the ACS award in Pure Chemistry, the ACS Ipatieff Prize, and the National Fresenius Award. She is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences and American Association of Arts and Sciences, as well as a Fellow of the American Chemical Society. Professor Sanford currently serves as an Associate Editor for the Journal of the American Chemical Society.