American Chemical Society to present Arthur W. Adamson Award to Steven Sibener

Steven Sibener, the Carl William Eisendrath Distinguished Service Professor in Chemistry and the James Franck Institute at the University of Chicago, will receive the 2012 Arthur W. Adamson Award for Distinguished Service in the Advancement of Surface Chemistry from the American Chemical Society next March.

Sibener will be cited “for his definitive contributions toward understanding dynamical processes that underlie surface chemistry, through innovative experimentation and profound analysis.”


Surface chemistry deals with the processes that occur at the interfaces between various distinct states of matter, such as solid surfaces and gases.

Sibener will present the award address in March 2012 at the 243rd ACS National Meeting in San Diego. Previous recipients of the award include some of the world’s most distinguished chemists, including Robert Gomer, the Carl William Eisendrath Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus Professor in Chemistry, in 1996; and Sir David King, the former chief scientific advisor to the United Kingdom, in 2009.

Sibener’s research has had wide impact in a variety of forefront areas of modern chemistry. His seminal contributions toward elucidating the atomic-level dynamical properties of interfaces, as well as the chemical processes and transformations that occur on such interfaces, encompass surface and materials chemistry, chemical physics, catalytic reaction kinetics, polymeric systems and nanoscience. 

Molecular beam scattering, scanning probe microscopy imaging, numerical simulations and theory all play prominent roles in his research. He is especially proud of the accomplishments achieved by the many outstanding postdoctoral fellows, graduate, undergraduate and high school students who have participated in his research program.

Along with Argonne National Laboratory’s Seth Darling, PhD’02, earlier this year, Sibener shared first place in the photography category of the 2010 Science/National Science Foundation International Science & Engineering Visualization Challenge.

Sibener is the former director of the James Franck Institute and of the Materials Research Science and Engineering Center at UChicago. He also has chaired the two faculty committees that recommended forming the new Institute for Molecular Engineering and defined its ambitious horizons.

In 2001, Sibener founded the multi-institutional Center for Materials Chemistry in the Space Environment. Last year with colleagues at four partner institutions, he established and is director of the Center for Energetic Non-Equilibrium Chemistry at Interfaces. This new National Science Foundation Center for Chemical Innovation has now grown to span the country, including 14 faculty members at 10 universities.

Sibener received his ScB in chemistry and BA in physics, both with honors, from the University of Rochester, and MS and PhD degrees in chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley, under the guidance of Nobel Laureate Yuan T. Lee. He was a postdoctoral fellow at Bell Laboratories. His many honors include the Marlow Medal of the Royal Society of Chemistry. His is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Alumnus Arthur Adamson, PhD'44, who died in 2003, conducted pioneering research in inorganic photochemistry.