February 01, 2018

The Welch Foundation Announces 2018 Norman Hackerman Award Recipient

Houston, TX – February 1, 2018 – The Welch Foundation today announced that Dr. Jeffrey D. Rimer is the recipient of the 2018 Norman Hackerman Award in Chemical Research. Having already made significant scientific contributions in the areas of energy and drug development, Dr. Rimer is being recognized as a ‘rising star’ in his field.

“As the foundation is based in Houston, this is a special opportunity to recognize a researcher who lives and works in our hometown,” said Carin Barth, Director and Chair, The Welch Foundation. “Dr. Rimer’s vast achievements are further proof that some of the brightest minds in chemistry are in Texas.”

Currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Houston, Dr. Rimer is known for his ability to apply multiple scientific disciplines to his research, producing breakthroughs that have immediate applications in materials science.

“The Welch Foundation has made a significant impact on my research program,” said Dr. Rimer. “The Foundation’s funding is unique in that it is not tied to specific applications or agendas, but instead supports fundamental research on the merits of the problems being addressed. This provides tremendous latitude for researchers to be creative and pursue scientifically-driven studies. Support from the foundation also opens avenues for high-impact discoveries and the establishment of new research directions. Indeed, funding from The Welch Foundation has allowed my group to develop completely new areas of research that would have been impossible to accomplish without their support.”

Dr. Rimer’s lab has made two significant research discoveries in the past decade, the first being that of a molecule that inhibits calcium oxalate crystallization, the principal component of kidney stones. This promising therapeutic is a major advancement in drug development and has the potential to replace drugs currently used to treat this widespread disease. The second notable discovery is the development of techniques to elucidate complex pathways of non-classical crystallization, inspiring new methods to optimize the synthesis of zeolites, which are important as catalysts in petrochemical industries.

“Dr. Rimer is widely recognized as an outstanding teacher and mentor, as evidenced by the deep scholarship and innovation produced in his lab,” said Peter B. Dervan, Chair, The Welch Foundation Scientific Advisory Board. “He has become a leader in the emerging field of non-classical crystallization.”

After receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from Allegheny College, Dr. Rimer went on to earn the same degree in chemical engineering from Washington University in St. Louis and a Ph.D. in the same field at the University of Delaware. He worked as a postdoctoral fellow at New York University’s Molecular Design Institute in the chemistry department, before joining the faculty at the University of Houston. Dr. Rimer’s research has been published in notable journals including Science, Nature, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The write-up of his work with kidney stone treatment was picked up by more than 75 international news outlets, including US News & World Report.

“Receiving the Hackerman Award is a tremendous honor,” said Dr. Rimer. “This achievement is a team effort that reflects the excellent research of my current and former students.”

The Norman Hackerman Award in Chemical Research was established by The Welch Foundation to honor Norman Hackerman, its Scientific Advisory Board chair from 1982 to 2006. The award recognizes the accomplishments of chemical scientists in Texas who are early in their careers. It is designed to encourage scientists who are embarking on careers dedicated to increasing our fundamental understanding of chemistry. Upon accepting the award, Dr. Rimer will receive $100,000, as well as a bronze sculpture to commemorate the occasion.

The Welch Foundation, based in Houston, is one of the United States’ largest private funding sources for basic chemical research. Since 1954, the organization has contributed approximately $866 million to the advancement of chemistry through research grants, departmental programs, endowed chairs, and other special projects at educational institutions in Texas.

For more information on the Foundation and a list of previous Hackerman Award recipients, please visit www.welch1.org.


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