Tomislav Friscic

Tomislav Friščić, MCIC, a professor in McGill University’s Department of Chemistry, has received a Steacie Prize for Natural Sciences, which recognizes his outstanding contributions to the field of green chemistry. He is the first chemist at McGill to earn this prestigious honour, which is administered by the E.W.R. Steacie Memorial Fund, a private foundation dedicated to the advancement of science and engineering in Canada. The prize and the foundation are named in the memory of former National Research Council president Edgar William Richard Steacie, who was himself a faculty member of McGill’s chemistry department for 13 years before he joined NRC.

Much of Friščić’s work has focused on solid state reactions, a field known as mechanochemistry, which can eliminate the use of harsh solvents and reduce the energy required to promote reactions. Those goals are among the cornerstone principles of green chemistry, which is aimed at making established commercial chemical processes more environmentally friendly. Canadian Chemical News has regularly explored the growing impact of mechanochemistry over the past few years: Grinding Chemistry, Chemists get physical and rage against bulk solvents, Enhancing nobility metal processing.

The Steacie Prize adds to the many awards he has already received for his innovative research. As the author of some 200 peer-reviewed papers and 17 book chapters, he has built a reputation as a leader in a branch of chemistry that he describes a full of fresh potential.

“All we can do is experiments, and make logical connections and draw conclusions,” Friščić explains by way of introduction. “We need to create a broad and modern definition of mechanochemistry. It’s not just milling, it’s not just alloying, it’s not just sonication or pulling molecules apart — it’s all of that.”