The Einstein Foundation brings a top international scientist to Berlin

Prof. John Hartwig, „Einstein Visiting Fellow“
John Hartwig Picture

June 29th, 2011

John F. Hartwig, a major star in the organometallic catalysis field, will work within the UniCat Cluster of Excellence

The American chemist Prof. John F. Hartwig will make his debut as recipient of the Einstein Foundation Award in the German Cluster of Excellence “Unifying Concepts in Catalysis” (UniCat) on 29th June 2011. Following the official presentation of his letter of appointment as “Einstein Visiting Fellow”, he will give his inaugural lecture on the site-selective functionalization of carbon-hydrogen bonds for the more efficient use of hydrocarbons in the supply chain.

“John Hartwig is a major star in the organometallic catalysis field. His creative approaches will generate new, unforeseen interdisciplinary synergies in our Cluster of Excellence. It feels like we are a Premier League football team when a new top player joins the team,” enthuses Prof. Matthias Drieß, spokesman for the Berlin Cluster of Excellence UniCat, who is very pleased with this boost to the homogeneous catalysis field.

The scientist is to visit Berlin several times a year, where he will initiate research projects with his Berlin colleagues and spend some time teaching. The Einstein Foundation Berlin provides €150,000 per fellow per year, which affords the means to set up a Berlin working group.

With its “Einstein Visiting Fellows”, the Einstein Foundation has launched one of its central programmes, which aims to attract international top scientists to Berlin for the long term. “The Einstein Visiting Fellows are prominent scientists who we would not have been able to attract to Berlin through our regular appointments,” says Prof. Jürgen Zöllner, Senator for Education, Science and Research. “This programme will allow them to be reliably integrated into the Berlin science and research environment.”

John Hartwig (46) has written over 250 publications and is one of the 50 most-quoted chemists in any area of study. Until recently he was Professor of Chemistry at the University of Illinois, USA, changing a few weeks ago to the renowned University of California, Berkeley.  Even at the very start of his scientific career he was already making a series of spectacular discoveries thanks to which the catalytic transformation of hydrocarbons into functionalized reusable materials was possible for the first time.

Hydrocarbons are the main component of crude oil and natural gas. Chemically, they are relatively inert. This means that the activation of the bonds between carbon atoms and hydrogen atoms plays an important role. In organic chemistry, almost the entire industrial production of chemical raw materials is based on hydrocarbons.

Time:Wed 29.06.2011; 17:15

Hörsaal C 243

Institut für Chemie der TU Berlin

Straße des 17. Juni 115

10623 Berlin


Title:Site-Selective Functionalization of Aliphatic and Aromatic C-H Bonds


“Unifying Concepts in Catalysis” (UniCat) is the sole Cluster of Excellence researching the economically important field of catalysis. More than 250 chemists, physicists, biologists and engineers from four universities and two Max Planck research institutes from Berlin and Potsdam are involved in this interdisciplinary research network. The Cluster is hosted by the Technische Universität Berlin. UniCat receives funding of approximately €5.6 million each year as part of the Excellence Initiative of the German Research Foundation.

For further information, please contact:
Prof. Matthias Driess
Department of Chemistry
Technische Universität Berlin,
Tel.: + 49 (0) 30 314-29 731, E-Mail:

Dr. Martin Penno
UniCat Cluster of Excellence, Public Relations Officer
Technische Universität Berlin
Tel.: + 49 (0) 30 314-28 592, E-Mail: