Barluenga Lecture

Prof. Dr. Ben Feringa  
Barluenga Lecture





Prof. Dr. Ben L. Feringa

2017 fourth Barluenga Conference



Research Interests


The art of building small

The research program of the Feringa group is focussed on synthetic and physical organic chemistry. Inspired by Nature's principles of molecular assembly, recognition, transport, motion and catalysis, the goal is to exploit the full potential of synthetic chemistry to create new structures and functions. A major part of the research is directed towards dynamic molecular systems. The focus is on molecular nanoscience, novel responsive materials and photo-pharma exploring biohybrid systems, self-assembly, molecular switches and motors. A second part of the program deals with the development (and application in chemical biology) of novel stereoselective synthesis methods and asymmetric catalysis. Chirality is a leading theme and over the years a unique and broad expertise in fundamental aspects of stereochemistry has been acquired including chiroptical phenomena, chiral amplification and origin of chirality.





Ben L. Feringa obtained his PhD degree at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands under the guidance of Professor Hans Wynberg. After working as a research scientist at Shell in the Netherlands and at the Shell Biosciences Centre in the UK, he was appointed lecturer and in 1988 full professor at the University of Groningen and named the Jacobus H. van't Hoff Distinguished Professor of Molecular Sciences in 2004. He was elected Foreign Honory member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and is member and vice-president of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences. In 2008 he was appointed Academy Professor and was knighted by Her Majesty the Queen of the Netherlands.

Feringa's research has been recognized with a number of awards including the Koerber European Science Award (2003), the Spinoza Award (2004), the Prelog gold medal (2005), the Norrish Award of the ACS (2007), the Paracelsus medal (2008), the Chirality medal (2009),the RSC Organic Stereochemistry Award (2011), Humboldt Award (2012), the Grand Prix Scientifique Cino del Duca (French Academy 2012), the Marie Curie medal (2013) and the Nagoya Gold Medal (2013). More recently he has shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2016 for the design and synthesis of molecular machines.

The research interest includes stereochemistry, organic synthesis, asymmetric catalysis, optopharma, molecular switches and motors, self-assembly and molecular nanosystems.




Academical and
industrial career

Undergraduate and graduate studies in chemistry, University of Groningen
PhD at Department of Organic Chemistry, University of Groningen, Thesis: Asymmetric Oxidations of Phenols; supervisor Prof. Dr. Hans Wynberg

Research Chemist (organic synthesis, oxidation processes, photochemistry), Royal Dutch Shell, Shell Laboratories, Amsterdam.

Lecturer Amsterdam (Hogere Analistenschool).

Research Chemist (Bioorganic Chemistry), Shell Biosciences Laboratories, Sittingbourne, UK.

Project Leader Homogeneous Catalysis, Shell Research Laboratories, Amsterdam.

Lecturer Organic Chemistry, University of Groningen

Appointed successor of Prof. Dr. H. Wynberg; chair of Organic Chemistry, Professor of Organic Chemistry, University of Groningen.

Chairman Department Organic and Molecular Inorganic Chemistry

Director Stratingh Institute for Chemistry

Jacobus H. van 't Hoff Distinguished Professor of Molecular Sciences

Academy Professor; Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences

Hans Fischer Honorary Fellow, Institute for Advanced Studies, TU Muenchen